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EX 


II B KI S 


ij. 


^1 





15^^?;?*^ 



SILAS W. HOWL AND 



HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY 

FROM THE COLLECTION OF 

SILAS W. HOWLAND 

RECEIVED BY BEQUEST NOVEMBER 8, 1918 



en ESS IN ICELAND 




*^ 



WeSS in ICELAND 



AND IN 



ICELANDIC LITERATURE 



WITH HISTORICAL NOTES ON 



OTHER TABLE- GAMES 



BY 



WILLABD FISKE 



FLORENCE 

THE FIX)RENTINE TYPOOBAPHICAL SOCIETY 



MOMV 



SG^sms.i 



HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY 

BEODCSr OF 

SILAS W. HOWLAND 

NOVEMBER 8, 1938 



PREFACE 



The story of its compilation may explain^ although it may not excuse the 
mongrel character and untidy arrangement of this volume. Many years ago, 
at an age when neither the author's acquaintance with Icelandic literature 
nor his familiarity with the game of chess was in any wise conmiensurate 
with his interest in those subjects, he wrote and published two brief articles 
concerning chess-play in Iceland. * The periodical of very restricted circu- 
lation in which these essays appeared has long been out of print, and is 
rarely to be found either in private or public collections of books. Certain 
circumstances determined the writer to reprint them for limited distribution 
in Iceland. Ui)on reading them in the printer's proofs, their meagrcness and 
defects became markedly evident ; thereupon some omitted incidents in tlie 
history of the game in the northern island were hurriedly >\Titten out, and 
added to the earlier matter. Subsequently, in the same planless way, further 
passages illustrative of the subject, discoverable in the older or newer 
literature, a number of notes on the terminology of the game, especially 
as it is represented in Icelandic lexicography, and various other items of 
greater or less interest, were likewise appended. While making these 
hasty studies and additions, the knotty question of hnefataflj or hnotiajf, 
came up, and led to a desire to ascertahi what that mysterious sport, 
mentioned at such an early period, really was, or, at least, what it was 
not. Editors and commentators of the old northern monuments are, in the 
first place, divided in opinion as to whether the word just cited represents 
the same game or two different diversions ; in the second place, they have 



* Conii^ro pp. 1 and 10 of the pi-esent volume. 

Ed. 



VI PREFACE 



explained or translated these vocables in many varying ways — as chess, 
draughts, backgammon, fox-and-geese, and so on. In order to learn whether 
any of these still practised sports resemble the extinct northern one (or ones), 
it was deemed essential to devote, preliminarily, a few pages to the history 
and nature of the diflerent table-games which were introduced during the 
early ages into Germanic Europe. It was found, however, at the very 
outset of this investigation, that, except in the case of chess, the historical 
accounts which had been compiled, in any country, in regard to those games, 
were of the slightest character and of little note or value ; from this sweeping 
statement are only to be excluded the contents of the second part of Thomas 
Hyde's noteworthy treatise, *'De ludis orientalibus," which saw the light just 
before the close of the seventeenth century. But that scholar devoted com- 
paratively brief space to the games in vogue in central and northern Europe, 
confining his enquiries, for the most part, to the lands of the East, and to the 
two classical countries of the Mediterranean. Other tractates on Greek, La- 
tin and Asiatic games are, like Hyde's book, very generally in Latin, and 
have thus not been generally available to the compilers of manuals treating 
of these pastimes. In addition to the not inconsiderable bibliography of 
printed literature in connection with this topic, the remarkable manuscripts 
relating to mediaeval table-games, now. known to be preserved in several 
European libraries, had, in a casual manner, come to the cognizance of the 
writer. Their existence was, for a long time, a sealed fact to most scholars ; 
few Indeed had examined their pages — brilliant with the highest art of the 
illuminator — and of these few, none, so far as is known, had carried their 
studies beyond the portions devoted to the vlenerable game of chess. It is, 
moreover, less than half a century since the groups of codices at Rome and 
Florence, in some respects the most important of all, were alluded to in any 
printed publication, while the one housed within the monastic walls of the 
Escorial, which owes its execution to Alfonso the Wise of Spain, had never 
been critically treated, even as to its chess section, until within the last de- 
cade or two ; while its accounts of other table-games in use in the thirteenth 
century have remained up to now a field un tilled by the investigator. 

The author, in pursuit of his purpose, began a cursory examination of 
such of these documentary relics as were within his reach, and of such prin- 
ted sources, hitherto unfamiliar to him, as might cast any light on his subject. 
The result was that a considerable amount of material, little of which had as 
yet found its way into manuals of games or into encyclopsedias, fell into his 
hands. To all this it seemed essential to add some slender notices of the 
mode or modes of practising each variety of these old amusements, in the 
hope that the changes which they had undergone, from time to time, might 
be traced, and a fairly complete idea of the terminology used in connection 
with them, at diiferent periods, might be gathered and studied. For it is 
from a comparison of the technical terms belonging to them, the precise signi- 



PREFACE VII 



fications and probable etymologies of such words, that we can hope to derive 
more thorough information as to the origin, development and spread of the 
game ; and, despite his own light success, the writer Ib still convinced that a 
closer scrutiny of these elements, and a more careful search into their rela- 
tions to each other, at various ages and in various languages, will not only 
enable us to clear up, partially at least, the many lacunas in our knowledge 
of the beginning and growth of this social diversion, but will result in a val- 
uable contribution to universal folk-lore, as well as to our knowledge of a 
not uninteresting field embracing both oriental and occidental linguistics. 

The interest of the writer in these new researches, as they went on, was 
greatly spurred so that he wholly abandoned for a time the theme with which 
he had set out, and suddenly devoted himself to this other which had obtruded 
itself upon his notice. So absorbing did the novel subject become that, in the 
end, it has grown to occupy the whole remaining part of this first volume 
and rendered a second necessary, if so be that the author is to complete the 
treatment of Iceland's part in chess history and chess letters. The absurdity 
of the extraordinary and extravagant course thus pursued is quite plainly 
evident to the author himself. It is as if a cook, starting to make a ^asty and 
having partly completed it, should end by turning it into a pudding, or as if a 
scribbler, having begun a poem on love or some other fine emotion of the 
heart, should suddenly try to transform it into a dissertation on affections of 
the liver. 

The specially regrettable thing in regard to the work is that neither of 
the two matters discussed has been handled with proper fiillnoss and thor- 
oughness. This is partially owing to the way in whicli the compilation has 
been made. From the beginning, whenever an amount of copy sufficient 
to fill a printed sheet was prepared, it was at once sent to the press ; and 
this inconsiderate and eccentric method of composition is the cause, to a 
great extent, of the repetitions and other imperfections which will be found, 
thick-strewn, in the following pages. The author, then, cannot pretend 
that he has presented a satisfactory sketch of Icelandic chess ; nor does he 
flatter himself that he has done more for the other table-games than to 
call attention to certain historical sources, which demand investigation by 
younger and less occupied hands. These games, always of a minor import- 
ance when compared with chess, but most of them nevertheless as old as 
civilization, and as widespread as human culture, have hitherto been dealt 
with, as to their historical position, if so dealt with at all, by scholars who 
had little practical familiarity with the games themselves, or by professional 
compilers who were utterly unconversant with the ways and means of scholar- 
ly research — in other words by investigators who were not players, or by 
players who were not iuYestigators. In fact, if we except chess, no table-game 
has had any adequate notice given to its origin or history except by writers 
or in writings not easily accessible to the general Utt&raieur, Lexicology, 



VIII PREFACE 



especially, as this book abundantly shows, is rich in singular errors, and 
striking by equally singular omissions, in its attempts to Ulustraio the 
technical words and phrases belonging to these widely disseminated re- 
oreatioiiR. 

The second volume will contain, it is hoped, a detailed iiccoiiut and 
discussion of the hnefatajl matter ; a list of Icelandic chess proverbs and 
sayings ; notes on the carved chessmen and other chess objects found in the 
Museums of Scandinavia and England, commonly regarded as the pro- 
ductions of Icelandic workshops ; reprints of Dr. Van der Linde's article 
on Icelandic chess, publislied in 1874 in the Nordisk Skaktidende, of two 
brief articles relating to chess in Iceland for the Deutsche Schachzeitung , 
and of the complete Icelandic text of Olafur DavfQsson's paper on chess in 
his 'Mslenzkar Skemtanir" ; and will close mth a Scandinavian chess 
bibliography with notes, compiled in Icelandic but never yet published 

[WiLi^UD Fiskk] 



Thus far the preface, written in the last weeks of the author's life. 
An additional pencilled memorandum indicates his intention to acknow- 
ledge with his thanks the help and counsel which he had received from 
various sources. May this brief mention reach those friends whom he had 
in mind ! 

The proof shoots of the present volume were examined by Mr. Fiske 
through page 344. During the summer of 1904 he was engaged on the 
preface, and at the time of his death, Sept. 17, 1904, he had compiled a 
portion of the index, and had corrected the first proofs for the final pages. 
The work has been concluded with the assistance of Mr. George W. Harris, 
Librarian of Cornell University, and Mr. Hallddr Hermannsson of Reykjavik, 
who were testamentarily named for this purpose. The latter has revised 
and completed the index itself. 

A reproduction of the latest photograph of Mr. Fiske, taken in Ax>ril, 
1904, forms the frontispiece. The original frontispiece selected by the 
author, who had not even placed his name on the title page, directly pre- 
cedes the text. An eminent English authority on chess. Dr. Harold J. R. 
Murray, identifies it as appearing on the title page of an Italian work 
published at Milan in 1829, and entitled: ** Yolgarizzamento del libro de' co- 
Btumi e degli officii de' nobili sopra il giuoco degli soacchi di frate Jacopo 
da Gessole tratto nuovamente da un codioe MagUabechiano''. The preface 







later in tht* amckl pniiiArsaab* y-agrn^ "a lofc^a 
UnirerHtT vl. iht ImmdaztaL i^ fv' T^ anxwR 

It U fjothtr Tabtt pnrfom of m» imffeSV^siML aii» hiezr- -q i nua. -y 
pnhWsh a cKMTjt^rLiOL cif j p feiui* ' of tu^ itu«^ nc i g gfc ai a -MnMNMC n- Jj^ 
Fifike in 19^*7-^ Icr -uk ^^3m«» Mmmtmif : sm. u & jui wpa. -nw 
hae been plaunc^ vibk^ aMxxnai: viL i*?^ cr^^fi -/ "■• ^^ 
the game of cbesK sa£ iuft> tsfiorv- n aCT-ai«tK is. 



B« 



Ti» 



Florexce. IfAfiCH. li«(*r-- 



CONTENTS 



Polar Choss 1 

Chess in the Sagas 9 

The Story of Prithlof 25 

Stray Notes : 

Magnus 6laf88on*8 Latin Poem on Ches^ 33 

Two Witnesses 34 

The Chess Lays of Stefin 6lat'8son 37 

Among the Lexicographers 43 

Dr. Van der Linde and the Spilab6k 61 

A Qrimsey^ Legend 68 

Tables and Hnefatafi : 

Tafl dO 

Chess and Draughts 92 

Mdrelies or Morris Qame 97 

Fox-and-geese 146 

What was "Tables''! ... 157 

Backgammon 175 

Conclusions ^357 

Indej 365 

Corrigenda 399 



• • 



s(;(C(c ((«««(( (c(cft(e(e(e(c(C(C(e««(C(c(e«i(i; 




>^Rt««e«««ff«(t«ff(Ctt«««MMMM« 



\ ' 



THE GAME OF CHESS 

IN THE 

LAND AND LITERATURE 

OF 

ICELAND 



1. — Polar Chess. * 

The island of Iceland is an anomaly and a marvel—an anomaly in its 
natural history, for almost everywhere in its domain wc find the living 
fierceness of volcanic heat coping with the death-like desolation of Arctic 
cold; and a marvel in its political history, which exhibits the spectacle of a 
pagan people, at an age preceding the morning of modern civilization on the 
mainland of Europe, building up, without any aid from the jurisprudence or 
polity of Rome, a complex but consistent code of laws, and a remarkable 
system of self-government, in which both the rights of the individual and 
the general good of the community were cautiously cared for. In the ingen- 
ious minds of its early lawmakers originated the existing form of trial by 
jury— that palladium of personal liberty; while the people themselves, sprung 
from the best blood of mountainous Norway, whose inborn love of freedom 
had sent them to the distant oceanic isle, created, as if by an impulse of in- 
stinct, a representative parliament, the yearly sessions of which took place, 
almost without a break, for nearly nine hundred years; so that its legiti- 
mate successor— the present Althing— may boast of being, by some centuries, 
the oldest legislative body in the world. The classic writers of the Common- 
wealth thus established, bequeathed to posterity many delightful pictures of 
the wonderful life of the unique insular nationality, and of that of their kin in 
the other Scandinavian lands — narratives scarcely excelled in literature for 
minute and characteristic detail. The old Icelandic poetry, too, from that sub- 
lime mythological and legendary epic, the so-styled Elder Edda, down to the 
elaborately wrought longer Skaldic lays, and the briefer, metrical impromptus 
and epigrams— witty, dashing, biting— scattered throughout the sagas, mark- 
edly displays the fact that the imagination is not alone excited by the genial 
air, the spicy perfumes and the luxuriant nature of the South, but glows with 
fervor even in the rocky, treeless, icy North. Like the very earliest blossoms 
of tho Northern temperate zone— such as the winter-born trailing-arbutusand 
the modest hepatica — the flowers of poesy bloom even amid the snows. 

' See the CA««« MoMhlyy (New York 1857), I., pp. 801-205. 



rHF>H IS V ELASb 



In the chronirrie^. the rof&^nc<>3i. tii« poeti«r pf»:<i«;ti«iib§ o^ Iceiampi there 
;irft many aMuAionn to <rt:^r>»«. C«irta.in ".i ih«> r'ioiA=.«yrr» ■:•> noc c.**:tati» w pat 
allfjMionH to r:h*;j»i», or MO&if: -i£i,.!Ar ...ii:-**- -co lq.* ::^':*i:i •:•' all-ia:i«dr (Xiin 
hifiiscir. * Affrh-'f-oloijiftiA, who ^a.- i-^^.i^ :r.*» i.»»ac :'* anu'.^iii;.**?' an *.\^z\ of 
thffir roMfarch, traveller?* who t-ave \.**'.»Hi th^ *!».'«*cirT. antl ¥an«.»c-s native 
authors them»elve« are all aiTe^ni *n tJj* a5ft<rt:«.c iha: i&»> t.aiu< Las been, 
for neveral centuries, esteeiu*:^! an«i f-racuoe*! in the Ian*i *A the G-vsers. The 
Icclanflic fhesH-noriiencIaturK- iri«];cat^> — a."* Wtll h^e n^ore partioalarly iH>ted 
hereafter— that a knowIe*l;:e of the ^f^^rt reach^i the L-^Iaci, at a very early 
ilay, hy way of Great Briuin. while the variations iritro«ii:o»riI into iL< prac- 
tice—such as ^rivin;? different value^t to 'liiTerer.t sr.rt* of cKnt-kiLate— show 
that it noon heeanie a favorite wini»^r-ev»rnin'^ -IiverMt n in the i'arn.Meail< of 
the Northern lan<J. From one of the f-.st-kcown books ..'f travel in ktrlanJ,' 
iiubiiHhed in tfie last eenturv. an«J the uiore tru*tworihT becauM* its authors 
were native.s of the soil they lraverse«]. we ar»' able to ulean 5m»nie particulars 
relative to the peculiaritiefj of the leelaniJie pame. 

' In the fanioiM rIddiM of iLe *'II«:rvar«r ca^ar'* pro[K*«a«iic>l bj the diMi^u«d Odin. TW 
game referred to U knefatafi. 

* This work, not only well knovra, but even jret ib« beat record of tra%eU relatiai; to 
Icvlaiid— the best, b«eatu« it wa« tbe work of two broadlj iotrlligeot aatiTes of tbe Ulaad— 
ia : — " Vice-I^viuaDd Ki^cert Olafaeiu of I^and-rbjciei Biame FoveUeoa ReUe igteaaea 
Island, foransialtet af Videnskabernes Sirlskab i KitfbeabaTn, of bcskrevea af forbcMeldt« 
Kggert Olafsen, med dertil b5ireDde 51 Kobberstokker og et ayt fcrfnrdiget Kart over lalaad. 
Korno, 177S. " The whole narratire was written by tbe first-nani>:d of tbe two trarellera, 
Kggert Olafsson, scientist, ccoDomltt, poet, patriot — iji many respects tbe most notable leo- 
landio flgure of the eighteenth ec*ntury, whoAo comparatively short life was one of great 
activity. He and his eompaulon, Itjarui PaJsson, surgeon-general of Iceland, spent the years 
1752-1757 iu visiliug n^ery purtion of the country, a task undertaken by command of King 
Frederic V at the Instance of the Dsuisb Academy of Sciences. Tbe appended ** Flora Islan- 
dica " was prepared from their collections by the Danish botanist, Joban Zoega. The map 
(dated 1771) was elaborated l^y the care of the famoos Icelandic scholar, Jon Kiriksson (1728- 
1787), an oruaraeiit alike to his native country and to Denmark, in which much of his la- 
borious life was passed, with the aid of the Danish historian, Gerhard Sch5ning. The latter 
wrote the brief preface to the first roiuiue. The German translation by Joachim Michael 
Oeuss ('* Keise diirch Island ") appeared at Copenhagen In 1774-75. The French version ('* Voy- 
age en Islaude"), consisting of five octavo volumes of text and a quarto atlas, was trans- 
lat«ul in part (voluineH I-III) by Gaulthlur de I>a I'eyronle, and in part (volumes IV-V) hy 
K. Itjitrnurude, aud was published at I'aris In 1802. The English, greatly abridged, version 
(•* Travels in Iceland ") was prlutod in a slender octavo at Ix>ndou In 1805. The translator signs 
his notes : F. W. II. A second German edition forms the nineteenth volume of a " Samm' 
lung der besttm uud uuuesten Rclsebeschreibungoa," and was issued at Berlin 1779. These 
travels contain almost the only deitcrlptlon of cheM, as it was developed in the isolated re- 
gion of l('olau*l, which has been accessible in a printed shape antil within the last few year*. 
The too brief section rolatiiii; to the game is to bo found in the first volume of the Danish 
eillllou (pp. 4(12-64). Tbe original Danish tixt Is as fullowM, the orthography of the Icelandic 
terms having been modernised : — " Hkak^plll have Islmnderno lagt dem mcget efter fra gammel 
tllil af, og enduu tliidtis Iblandt deni store spllloro; lsn*r have Voiterlandets indvaancre ord 
di'rfor, og det saavel biiuder, som de forncmme. De Inge durved I agt de samme hoved- 
regler, som bruges 1 andre Undo, uoglu fnii ting uudlagiie, og beholde end I dag alio do 
gaiulii dauske og uorrku navno og tAleiiiNiid«>r, sum di«tt<* sp"! viMlkoniroo. Matadorer ellcr 
ufn>^leroi'n« kaldes Altnn og flkiikm»nn\ KtnimujHr, koiigiMi ; f'ri^ eg IhuHning, damen ; Biakup^ 
blspeu, ellor hibsruM ( Utdilari, sprliigeren i NtMtttf (kh kliiuiipo oiler fribytter), llgesom i 
d««t rrAn*k« Nprog, tasmpl «>lli«r tlMphmitfU. KHttgteiitM kaldes /Vd { Skdka og Aldta, at 
«ii«ttu Mkak ug unit. Statu ng Jit^fnlt^/U, tiler JfiMiitavl, kaldus del, nitar dot or lige leeg paa 
lM>ggi« stdvr, da dim cno Hplllt<r iiiki* ksii koiiiiiiM itogoii vol, uudtegcn mod kongen, som man 
aldrig (>r Mk.vidlg Ml IrtfkkM, udoii hsii bllver sal tkak nied del Mammoi og hvis ban da el faaer 
uml t dot sMiuino, im k|dlli>l udi*, mm dol i*Miit>« ftn ItigiMi \liidiiiu fur nom^n ef partorne. lui-u 
heller lor en i<kyiidlNhi«d ar deiti. dei bar iiluil slandsen. /'#»f, det ur bart oiler blot, kaldce 



POLAR CHESS 



Sk&k, Sk&ktafl. 

The name of the game in Icelandic is etymologically similar to that cur- 
rent among the central occidental nations, originating in the speech of Per- 
sia. It was also often styled, by Icelandic writers, tafl (pronounced iabl), 
although that word was, and is, properly a generic term applied to all games 
played on a board or table — usually with round pieces or men — the term 
itself being a corruption of the Latin tahula. It corresponds to the early En- 
glish and French tables, as in Chaucer's lines ("ITeath of Blanche," 1. 51): 

For me tlioghio it Ix^tter play 
Than playo at cIicmo or table*. 

In its generic use it might mean either chess, draughts, backgammon, fox- 
and geese (in Icelandic refskffk, that is, fox-chess), nine-men's-roorris (Ice- 
landic mylna, frequently called in America twelve-men-morris)^ or any game 
for which a plain surface and men, or pieces, or figures were necessary. With 
the word tables may be compared the German bretlspiel (from 6re«=board and 
.v/)ie?=game) signifying literally any game played on a board, with men. SMk- 
tafl would be, therefore, a precise designation 9>\gr\\fy\x\g chess-tables^ or that 
kind of tables which we call chess. There were other words of the same sort, 
such as hnefatafl, hnettafl^ hnottafl (these throe, being possibly variants of 

den mindRte vindinflr* <^a ^d ecneR mandiikab er gansikc borttagct, og dog konKon ikke sat 
mat : h%'l8 ban sscltcN skak i dot Raniroo or dot /u!dt Bert ; hvin ikke kaldet det litla Bert. 
Heimamdt, biemmcmat, Pe^rifur^ kncgto-mat, og liVidtdtt, kongHknegtemat, holdes for de 
S 8t0nte eokelte vindingcr, og baanligate for don der tabor. Det f0r8to Rkocr, naar kongen 
ncttes skakmat i begyndelsen afflpillet, saalcdoR, at den bvcrkcn er bleven sat skak i for- 
veien, og e! boiler bar r0rt Rig af stodet. Det andet skakmat faaer kongen af een af knapg- 
terne : dot tredie, naar ban faaer mat af den knsegt, torn tilborer den andon kongo, og ondna 
Rtsaer paa Rin rirkko. Utkomumdt er n»Rt disse det 8t0rRtc, og regno* dog ikko for baanligt. 
Det boRtaaor deri, at kongon sjrttcs mat mod det samme en knn^gt kommur ud, eller i det 
trsek, Rom gi^r en knsegt til matador. Den mindnto fnldkomne vinding or Fruarmdtf naar 
der ssttes mat mod damon. Don atorate dobbelte vinding er 9 fold, og alelden dcrover; dog 
akal det vsere en Rtor Rpillcr, og banR modntauder knn lidet erfaren, naar mateno kunne drives 
saa vidt. I andre landu er man forn0iet rood enkelt Rkakmat; men bor sn^ttes kongen aaa 
mange skakmat, Rom man haver mandRkab til ; dog akal Rpillot vipre bragt i aaadan en orden 
i forveion, at i dot kongen s.'rtteH det fersto mat, da folge do andre atrax dcrpaa, uden at 
der maao skee andre trsek imcUcm, eller at kongen kan slippe fra nogen af dlsno mater 
imidlertid; men I denne omgang kan den mindste foraeolse tabe heele apillet. Gode apiUere 
kunde nsp.ite 6 til 7 sligo akakmat ad gaugcn, cudakient det andet partic veed alio reglerne, 
og er ovet deri. I Rkakapill tagcs bor gierne accundantor, og ibiandt gaaer det ikke af udon 
fortned eller bldalghed, bvilket kommor rocoRt af de dobbelto viudiuger; thi det kan glare on, 
issRr den, der i forveien er tungRindct, aergerlig derover, at ban akal i lang tiid Jagea med 
kongen from og tilbagc, tilligemed een af biapeme eller leberue, bvilken som den mindat bin. 
derlige oflBcIer, overmanden gierne lader den andcn beboldo, kun for at faae deato sterre og 
anseellgere soier over hare. Dette bar maaakce andre nationcr Root paa, i det de brug^ 
meeat ikknn enkelte vindingcr, bvorved loegon bliver mindro kiedaommelig. Alligevel viiBor 
det en ator knnat, at kunne Jsevnlig glAro mange dobbelte vlndinger ; tbi det kommer baade 
an paa en dyb eftertanke, og at bolde tankcmo beatandig samlede. 8kak spllles vel i Island 
paa fleere maader, aom bliver for vidtloftigt at fortac>llo ; men dcnno or den rette, sDldate og 
almiudeligste. De andre, aom er lottere, meer foranderligo og mindre kunRtigo, aynes at viere 
de nyere tiiders paafond.** In bis '^Oescblcbte des Scbacbapiels " (If. pp. 177-178), Dr. A. van 
der Linde reproducea tbla paasage from tbe German traualatioii of tbe Icelandio travellers* 
narrative (p. S45), IntersperRing it with brief comments, some pointed and proper enongb, 
others less so. He has copied tbe Danish text in his series of articles on ''Skak paa Island,** 
which will be found in an appendix to this volume. 



CHESS IN ICELAND 



the same word),^ interpreted by some as draughts, by others as fox-and-geese, 
(but perhaps more likely to have resembled the former), boddatafl, Freystafl, 
and kotimtafl (backgammon, also simply styled kotra). The indeflniteness of 
the word tafl has given rise to much confusion. Not a few of the passages 
in the old writings, to which references are often made as allusions to chess, 
really relate to draughts, or some other game resembling it, rather than to 
chess. The pieces, or higher figures, have the common name menn (men), 
and hence chess is occasionally spoken of as manntafl or mannskdk^ to dis- 
tinguish it from draughts and other sorts of tables, 

Xonungur ; Brottning, Fni. 

So the Icelanders designate the two chief pieces of the chess- field. Kon- 
ungur (abbreviated kongur) is cognate with our word King; of the last two 
words, drottning is the genuine Icelandic equivalent of our Queen, while fru 
means lady^ and its former use in Icelandic chess is probably owing to Danish 
infiuenco. The usual name of this most powerful piece is now drottning, 

Hr6kur ; Biskup ; Biddari ; Pe8. 

Tho first word is, of course, the very early Eastern appellation of the 
Rook, a term hopelessly disguised by the popular etymologies given to it in 
the various countries through which it has passed— one of its phases being 
a confusion with the fabulous bird (roc) of the "Arabian Nights,'' a process of 
etymological obscuration repeated botli in England (rook^ the chess-piece and 
rook, the bird) and in Iceland, the form hrokur being ascribable to the in- 
fluence of the older word hrokur, a rare Icelandic name of a bird. The 
name of this piece is sutticient evidence, if there were no other, of the En- 
glish origin of Icelandic chess, since, in the other Scandinavian dialects, the 
rook (in accordance with the German nomenclature) is known as the "tower" 
(Swedish tom\ Danish taarn), — Biskup i^oyiv Bishop, English and Icelandic 
being the only languages in which tho piece bears this ecclesiastical title (Ger- 
man Idufer; Swedish, Wpare; Danish, lober — literally "runner,'' but in the 
sense of "herald " or " courier"), although its Polish name is pop (t. e. priest). 
In English its earliest title was alfin (Arabic af=the, and /?f=elephant),5 and 
so it was called by Caxton (1474) : — " The manore and nature of the draught 
of the Alphyn is suche that he that is black in his propre siege is sette on 
the right side of tho Kyng. and ho that is whyt on the left side." The appel- 
lation was occasionally used in England as late as tho sixteenth century, for 
Rowbothum, tho translator of Vida's "Scacchia" (irJC2), says:—" The Bishoppes 
some name AlpUins,'''--Uiddari is tho ordinary translation of our word knight; 
and it is worthy of note that while tlio Swedes call this piece, according to the 
older dictionaries, tho " !u)rMo" (Ar/.v/)* or like the Danes adopt the German word 
springer (Swedish, springtirti\ Danlsti, .«pWfif/^r— from tho springing or jump- 
ing character of Its move) tliolr fi^llow Scandinavians of the Northern island 

^ Tbii U ddiiittd by ttio fot«liin«1l(« AroliiiMiloKliit, NI«llr^M^ OuNnunduon, who, In bU first 
report m diractur of tli« Ar^liiiMilofiit^iil Mm««iiiii mI UrykjAvIk (KnupmannAhArki 1868, p. 39), 
atatof that ••In our atiHiuit wrlliiitf* lw« kind* of UMp**' an* mttiilloiiad, hmnttafl or km»UaJl, 
and kn*faiafi or kn*ftnjll •« aMorlluM lo whl«'li wo NliatI rwliiru on auothc^r paff»« 

* Tha «ixlatln« lullat) (ii</l^r«) and MpAuUli (Mi^l or ar^O uama« of tha HUbop bave tbe 
lama •tjnioloff7. 



POLAR CHESS 5 



'O 



retain the mediaeval term (derived either from the Romance caballus=zhor»Q^ or 
from the Germanic verb, ride^ reiten^ or else borrowing the form of the Germanic 
knechU knight) signifying a military leader or (horse)soldier of rank, and cor- 
responding to the one employed by the Italians (cavaliere)^ Spaniards and 
Portuguese {cavallo)^ French (chevalier), and English {kniglU). It is to be re- 
marked that, although the Germans and the continental Scandinavians possess 
a word cognate with the Icelandic riddari (German reiter; Danish, ridder), those 
words are never employed in chess. — Pe^ comes from the Middle-Latin pedes 
(with the inflectional stem pedon-) meaning foot-soldier, thus having the same 
etymology as the English Pawn, the French pion, the Italian pedina and 
the Spanish peon. — The names of the chessmen used in England and Iceland 
not only reveal the track pursued by the game in reaching those countries, 
but betray the fact that chess in the Middle Ages was especially a diversion 
of the court and the cloister. But much more light might be thrown upon the 
story of chess in Iceland by a careful study of the nomenclature employed, 
at present and in the past, by the chessplayers of the island — if underta- 
ken by an investigator familiar alike with the story of chess and with Ice- 
landic philology and letters. 

. Sk&k (sk&ka) ; M&t (m&ta). 

Here the first word is the English chess and check (skdka being the verb, 
to check). The varying forms of these words, in all the European tongues, are 
derived from the Persian shdh (or scJidch), signifying "King''— the game 
thus owing its name to its most important — all important— piece. The En- 
glish **checkl " (interjection) is in Icelandic sMk! As in English, the exclama- 
tory phrases, sMk pjer ! (check to you I) and shdk konginum ! (check to the 
King I) may likewise be used when attacking the opponent's chief piece.— Afd< 
is the English " mate " {mdta being the verb, to mate). The origin of both 
— being virtually the word used by every nation — is the Arabic wirf<=dead (or, 
according to recent investigators, the Persian »»rff = surprized, confounded);* 
** checkmate," therefore, means simply: **the King dead," or "the King is 
dead" (or "the King is confounded"). The Icelandic renders "checkmate" 
by the phrase shdk og mat (i. e. " check and mate "), the verbal expression 
being skdha og mdta. 

* Dr. A. van der Linde, in bis *' QnolleuRtadien zur Geachlclite dea SchnchitpleU ** (1881, 
pp. U-15), cites the latest authorities, the Orientalists Oildemeister and Doxy. The former, 
in an article In the "Zeltsehrifl der deatschen Morgenlftudischen Gesellschaft** (XXVIIf, 
p. 696) says:— *' In thdhmdt die susammensetsunff eines perslschen substantivs mit einem ara- 
biseben perfect in nngcw5nlicher wortstellauK uud bedentun^r • • • • anxunemen, sollte man den 
einbelmlschen lexlkografen (Iberlassen. Mat ist vielmebr mlt Mirza Kasem Beg als adJeetiT 
in der bedeutung verbl&fftf nieht au* noeh ein witaend %a fassen, da die bei den Persern 
gebrauebteu synouyma wie •ntlcra/tety betUgt, mu handeln un/dhig adjeetlva sind, nnd der 
sprachgebrauch darar spricht. ** The Utter, iu his "Supplement aux dictlonnaires arabes '* 
(18T8. I.) eolncides with Oildemeister: — '^Convaloeu par les objections de M. Gildemeister 
je ne vols pins dans le mot mdt le verbe arabe qui signifie Ml est mort'; je pense au con- 
traire avec Inl et Mlrsa Kasem Beg (dans le < Journal Aslatique' 1851, If, p. 585), quMl eite et 
qni merite d'etre consulto, que e*est I'adjectirque les Persans emploient dans le sens d'^<onn^, 
aurprit.** This answers all the philological objections to the use, in one hybrid phrase, of 
the Persian substantive shdh and the Arabic verbal form mdi. At the same time it makes 
the action performed by the checkmate more logical. The ever-existing, all-essentlal chess- 
king is no longer considered as dead, but as merely <* surprised" or ^'oonfonnded** by the 
restralntt or restrictions, which his adversaries have plaoed upon his novementt. 



6 CHESS IN ICELAND 



Jafntefli, Stanz ; |>r&tefli ; Patt. 

These are the terms for various sorts of drawn ^amos. Jafntefli (even 
table, even play, or even-raanned) and Stanz (standstill, stopping) are posi- 
tions which are drawn by reason of lack of mating force on either side.— Prrff<?/Ii 
(the former element derived from the adjective J»»v/r, stubborn, obstinate, per- 
severing, the latter a derivative of iafl) is the Icelandic expression for a game 
drawn by perpetual check. — Patt^ the equivalent of our English "stalemate,'' 
came into Icelandic from Danish. It is a word common to most of the Euro- 
pean languages (German patt, French pat, Italian patta), but its etymology 
seems never to have been satisfactorily determined. Both an oriental and a 
western (Latin) origin have been suggested. The word has always been 
wholly unknown in England. 

Bert; Heimam&t. 

These arc two of the simple mates or winnings. The first-named is reck- 
oned, according to Eggert Olafsson, the least honorable method, for the 
winning player, of ending a game. The term signifies bare of men, and an- 
swers to the French roi cUpouill^. It is stated, somewhat obscurely, that, if at 
the time of taking his adversary's last piece, the winning player does not mate 
the other, it is called Htla (little) hert\ if he mates simultaneously with the 
capture of his adversary's last piece or pawn, it is styled stora (great) hert, — 
The second term cited is literally " home mate," and is a mate given at the 
first check, and before the King has moved from his square. We might per- 
haps paraphrase it by our ** Scholar's mate" or "Fool's mate." 

Pedrifur ; Blddsott ; Utkomam&t. 

The former of these words describes an ending in which mate is given 
by one of the pawns ; instead of it may be used pe^mdt or pe^smfH, pawn- 
mate. Each piece, in fact, except the King, gives its name to the mate ef- 
fected by it, such as drottningarmdt (or fruarmdt), "queen's mate," hroks- 
mdt, " rook's mate," and so on. JHochsdtt (that is, "dysentery") is a coarsely 
humorous appellation given to a mate eflected by the King's Pawn while still 
remaining on the King's file. Such a conclusion to the game is regarded as 
particularly disgraceful to the loser, t'lkomumdt is one of the so-called 
complete mates, or double winnings. It signifies a mate given by a Pawn 
at the eighth rank at the very moment of becoming a piece. Others of the 
double winnings are mates given by two or more pieces, and increasing, of 
course, in difticulty as the number of mating pieces is increased. For it was 
a singular rule, iKifore the modification of the Old Icelandic chess to make 
it conform to the modern rules in other lands, that the player might so con- 
duct his game as to be able, after giving a mate with one piece, to make 
another move, which should bring a second piece to bear upon the King so 
as to give, as it were, a second mortal blow, and by still another move to 
repeat the operation again with a third piece. These mates were to be 
given on successive moves ; and it required the greatest caution to prevent 
the losing party, by interposition or capture, from avoiding any of them. 

Later on in this publication it will be seen that many more varieties of 
mate were practiced by Icelandic chessplayers, so that, if a chess magazine, 
or chess column, had been formerly published in the far-oflf Thule, the edi- 



POLAR CHESS 



tors thereof would have been obliged not only to note, at the beginning of 
each game, the title of the opening played, but also to designate the par- 
ticular style of ending brought about by the winning party. There are also 
enumerated, in accounts of the Icelandic game, many other technical terms, 
which, in this sketch, we have been obliged to leave unnoticed. It cannot be 
doubted, as has been already hinted, that an art having so extended a no- 
menclature must have been practiced by a great number of individuals through 
many generations. 

When ChesB came to Iceland. 

In regard to the date of the introduction of the game into Iceland it is 
undeniable that the country's most distinguished son, Snorri Sturluson, was 
more or less acquainted with the game, when he narrated, in St. Olafs saga, 
the story of King Canute the Great and his retainer, Jarl Ulf the rich. This 
saga was composed not far from the year 1230, but the incident related oc- 
curred two hundred years previous, so that, if we could accept Snorri's ac- 
count as absolutely correct, we might infer that the oriental sport had become 
an accustomed diversion at the courts of the Scandinavian North as early as 
the first part of the eleventh century. But it is more than probable that tho 
game played between Canute and TJlf was another sort of ** brettspiel " (tafl, 
or "tables''), while Snorri, knowing only chess, or deeming it, as it was 
in his own time, the proper court-game, uses the words shfJktaft (game of 
chess) and iHddari (knight) — the latter being tho sole piece named. A sug- 
gestion has been made that a knowledge of chess might have been brought 
from England to Iceland, in the later portion of the twelfth century, by 
any one of three well-known men, or by all of them. They are not the 
only natives of the island who sojourned in Great Britain during that period, 
but they are the most noted, and the most likely, from their surroundings, 
both in England and Iceland, to have learned and imported such an intel- 
lectual amusement."' The first of the three notabilities in question was I^or- 
lakur I>6rhallsson, bishop ofSkdlholt, Iceland's southern see (6. 1133 (/. 1193). 
After his death he enjoyed tho singular honor of canonization, not by the 
pope, but by authority of the Icelandic Althing, or parliament (1199)— an 
act popularly ratified in the Scandinavian countries and Britain (and even 
by the Icelandic colony then existing in Greenland), in which lands he was 
always styled St. Thorlak, and had many shrines erected in his honor. His 
appointed festival (Thorlaksmas) fell on December 23. Somewhat before 1160 
he went, for purposes of study, to Paris, and thence to Lincoln in England, 
passing six years in those two places. In his saga, one of the most interest- 
ing of the histories of the Icelandic Bishops, we are told in reference to his 
stay in the English city that he "learned there great learning,"^ and returned 
home with a varied and extended knowledge. Ho was followed into foreign 
regions by the Icelandic notable, Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson, a man of many 
accomplishments— scholar, poet, artist, physician, jurist. His most impor- 
tant visit to the continent apparently took place before or about 1190. He 
went first of all to the Orkneys, whence he returned to Iceland, but subse- 

^ In cUborating this conjecture I have been greatly aided by my friend, Mr. Bogi Tb. 
Melflted, Danish assistant-archivist, and one of the most profound living students of Icelandic 
history. 

* <'0k nam |)ar enu mikit u&m. '* — l^islrupa SUgurj (Kaupmanuahdfn 1858), I., p. 92. 



8 CHESS IN ICELAND 



quently crossed over to Norway, and passed on to England, where he paid his 
devotions at the sanctuary of St. Thomas-a-Becket in Canterbury, to which he 
offered as gifts specimens of his artistic skill, one being an elaborately carved 
walrus-tusk. Thence he sought the famous shrines of St. Giles in Ilanz 
(Glion), Switzerland, and St. James at Compostella, Spain, and thereafter he 
proceeded to Rome, as the last and crowning goal of his pilgrim-tour; then 
he went back to Iceland by way of Norway. Hrafn made at least one more 
voyage to the British Isles, and finally fell in a feud at home in 1213. It will 
be noted that the ingenious Hrafn thus had an opportunity of familiarizing 
himself with chess, not only in England but also in Spain and Italy, its oldest 
seats in Europe, in which lands it had then been known for two hundred years. 
His saga is printed as an appendix to the Oxford edition of the Sturlunga saga, 
and also in the Biskupa sogur. ^ More remarkable still was the third conspic- 
uous Icelander, who became acquainted, at that early day, with English life 
and manners. This was Pall J6nsson (6. 1155), bishop of Skalholt, the direct 
successor of Thorlak the Holy. In the years about 1180 he was at school in 
England. His elevation to the episcopate took place in 1194, and he went 
abroad again the same year to be consecrated by the primate of Norway at 
Throndhjem, but as Archbishop Eirikur, in consequence of a quarrel with 
King Svcrrir of Norway, was an exile in Denmark, Pall proceeded to Lund 
(then a Danish city), where, by the authorization of Archbishop Eirikur, he 
was consecrated by the great prelate Absalon, who held the see of Lund. 
Both Archbishop Eirikur and P6tur, bishop of Roskilde, Denmark's ancient 
capital, were present at the imposing ceremony. Bishop Pdll went back to 
his diocese, and did noble work until he died in 1211. His saga says that 
when he departed from Iceland in his youth for foreign study, he stayed for 
a while at the court of Harald, Jarl of the Orkneys, and then went on to his 
English school, "and learned there such a vast deal of learning that scarcely 
had there been a case in which a man had learned equal learning, nor of tho 
same quality, in an equal space of time; and when he came out to Iceland, he 
was above all other men in the grace of his scholarship, in the writing of 
Latin, and in book-lore. He was also a man of fine voice, and a singer surpass- 
ing all his contemporaries in both melody and sonorousness." *o Bishop PalTs 
great-grand-father was Iceland's early scholar, Sa^mund the Learned, whose 
name has been given to Iceland's ancient mythological epos (Ssemundar Edda); 
while his father was J6n Loptsson (6. 1124, d. 1197), the master of the historian, 
Snorri Sturluson (6. 1178, d. 1241), the very writer who first mentions chess. 
The bishop must have known Snorri well in the latter's study-years in Jon 
Loptsson's house, during the decade before 1197, and must have told the youth 
much of what he had seen and learned during his own student life in Eng- 
land. And after 1197, when his able teacher, J6n Loptsson, was dead, 
Snorri lived, for at least two years, in the house of Bishop Pdll's brother, 
Scemundur J6nsson, which he left only on his marriage. It is noteworthy 
that in the Arons saga one of Snorri's nephews, I^6r3ur Sighvatsson, is rep- 

* ** sturlunga Saga," edited by Dr. Qudbrandur Vlgrdiwon, (Oxford 1878), II., pp. M5-S11, 
and <' Biskupa S6gur,** I. pp. 689-676. 

^ " Ok. nam ]}ar svi mikit nam at Irautt var daemi til, at nokkurr ma^r befdi jafumikid 
u&m numit ni pvilikt i Jafulangrl stund ; ok \?k «r baun kom dt til islands, ^k var bann fyrir 
dllum mSnnum d^rum at kurteisi laerdums sins, versagjord og bdkalist. Ilann var ok svi mlkill 
raddniadr og sdngmadr, og af bar sJJngr bans og rddd af d^rum monuum, )>«im er voru bonum 
BAmii^,'' ^Binkupa SUgur, I. p. 127. 



POLAR CHESS 



resented as playing chess whith another Icelander, Hrani KoI>ransson, in 
Norway. ** The incident described took place in the autumn of 1238 while 
Snorri was still living. This is another piece of testimony tending to prove 
the great sagaman's acquaintance with chess. 

All these three observant and acquisitive students were in England, 
among men and youth who felt a keen interest in the revival of learning 
and the arts, at a time when chess had come to be extensively known — espe- 
cially in the convents and schools ; for it was about 1180 that the abbot of 
Cirencester, Alexander Neckam, produced his treatise, ** De naturis rerum,'* 
which had a special chapter — and a very remarkable one — devoted to an 
exposition of chess. This was the earliest chess-writing in England, and of 
course, before it could have been composed the game must have become 
widely spread and esteemed. 

2. — Chess in the Sagas. '* 

In treating of some of the places in the Icelandic sagas where chess is 
mentioned, we shall pay heed only to those passages in which the word 
s/ulk, or skciktafl^ or akdkborch, or the names of the pieces given, indicate that, 
in the mind of the writer at least, the incident recounted relates to chess, 
and not to some other game at ** tables.'' The first citation is from St. Olafs 
saga, an historical record usually ascribed to Snorri Sturluson, but which, 
in any case, he edited, since it is a part of his great work, the " Heims- 
kringla'* — the sagas of the kings of Norway, of whom Olaf the Holy (Olafur 
helgi) was one. But really the field occupied by Snorri's work embraces not 
only Norway, but Sweden and Denmark likewise, the author portraying, 
more or less fully, the stories of the kings of those lands during the period 
he treats. 

6laf8 Saga helg>a. 

Canute the Great (Knutur riki), the ruler both of England and Denmark, 
"Sovereign of five Realms" as he is styled in the old British chronicles, 
once went to Southern Sweden — then Danish — to suppress a rebellion, which 
had been incited by his son Hardicanute (HorOakni'itur) and by Ulf Jarl 
(Ulfur jarl, or Earl Wolf), a powerful chieftain and courtier. Rumors of the 
advance of the royal fleet having reached them, these latter deserted their 
followers and allies, among whom were the kings of Sweden and Norway, 
and hastened to make their peace with the monarch. The fleet sailed into the 
mouth of Helga river (Icelandic, din Jielga=ihe holy river), where a fierce 
battle ensued. The Anglo-Danish King's own .ship was at one time in im- 
minent danger, but Ulf Jarl, at great personal hazard, succeeded in saving it. 
Canute now went to Roskilde, the capital of his Danish domains, where he 
arrived the day before the feast of St. Michael in the year 1027. Here Ulf Jarl, 
eager to wipe out his former offence, welcomed him with a splendid banquet, 
and endeavored, by merry words and submissive speeches, to reinstate himself 
in Canute's graces. But all his etforts to please the incensed monarch were 
futile; the latter continued to look grave and ill-natured. In the course of 
the evening the Jarl challenged his sovereign to a game of chess, and thechal- 

" *' I»elr PdrSr ok llraiil pitu at nkikUfli. ** — Stiirlunga Saga (1878), II., p. 344. 
^ 8eo tbe Chess Monlhlg, (New York I8a8), II., pp. 194-195. 



10 CHESS IN ICELA ND 



lengc was acceptod. During the game, Canute made a hasty move and left 
a knight en prise; the Jarl captured it, but the King requested him to replace 
it, and either make another move, or else allow him (Canute) to recall his for- 
mer move. The Jarl refused, arose from the table in anger, overturned the 
pieces, and walked away. The King, with a bitter laugh, called to him and 
said : — ** Are you running away, you cowardly Wolf? '' The Jarl turned and 
replied : — " You would have run much farther away at the Helga river, if you 
had been able. You did n't call me a coward then, when I came to your help, 
while the Swedes were slaying your men like dogs. " The next morning the 
pious sovereign, who rebuked his irreverent courtiers by the sea-side with such 
religious philosophy, and who had just returned from an humble pilgrimage 
to Rome, sent one of his Norwegian men-at-arms to the church in Ros- 
kilde, in which the poor Jarl had taken sanctuarv, and had him slain in the 
choir. This adds another to the singular parallels of history, for Ulf Jarl 
appears to have been to Canute the Great what Thomas-a-Becket was to 
Henry the Second. *^ 

Xnytlinga Sa^a. 

In 1157, something more than a hundred years after the death of Canute, 
another historic game of chess, and another royal violation of hospitality, took 
place in the ancient city of Roskilde. In that year the kingdom of Denmark 
was divided between three monarchs, Sveml (Sweyn),Valdemar and Canute the 

*' For an Kiigluh reuderiug of Ibis episode hcv Siiorri iiturlusoii's Stories of the Kings of 
Norway, translated by William Morris and Kiiilcur Magniisflon (Loudon 1891), II., pp. 3S6-387. 
We Irauscribo here the whole episode in the original text: — " Kuiitr konungr rci^ upp til 
Hroiskeldu dag inn na^sla fyrir Mitcjals-messu ok wv'b honum sveit niikil loanna. Ku }>arhaf<^i 
g6rt veizlu i moli honum Ulfr jarl, niagr hans ; veltli jarl allkappsaniliga ok varallkitr. Kou- 
ungr var f&malugr ok heldr ofr^nn ; jarl orti or^a k haun ok leilaM peira in^lsenda, er hanu 
Vfctti, at konungi myndi best pykkja. Konungr svarar fk. Pk spur?)! jarl, et haun vildi leika 
at skiktafli ; bann jAtti pvi ; toku peir ^k skaklaflit ok leku. Ulfr jarl var madr skjotordr ok 
^vacgiun hx7i\ i or^um ok i 51liim 0!^rum hlutuui ok hinn mesti franikvaem^ar-madr um riki sitt 
ok hernla^r raikill, ok er saga mikil fr4 honum s^g*^ ; Ulfr jarl var ma^r rikastr i DanmSrk, 
]>cgar er konunginu liddi. Systir IJlfs jarls var Oy^a, er kill OuMni jarl Ulfnabrsson ok varu 
synir ]>eira Haraldr Kngla-kouiingr, Tuxti jarl, Val|>j6fr jarl, Mdruk&ri jarl, Svoiuu jari, (Jy^a 
ddtlir lieira, er 4tti Batvar^r inn goM Kngla-konungr. 

Kn er l>eir leku at sk&ktafll, Kuutr konungr ok Ulfr jarl, ]}i 16k konungr fln;;rbrj6t 
niikiun ; liisktekM jarl af honum riddara ; konungr bar aptr tafl bans ok segir, at hann skyldi 
annat leika ; Jarl reiddisk ok skaut ni?>r taflborMnu 8t65 upp ok gckk i brot. Konungr mielti : 
" ronnr \fA ni!k, Ulfr inn ragi. *' Jarl MU0ri aptr vi& dyrrin ok Ufclli : " lengra myudir I>u 
renna i Auni heign, ef pii kvsemir ]?v\ vi^ ; kallaMr ]}U eigi ])i Ulf inn raga, cr ek Iag^a til at 
hjAlpa I>6r, cr Sviar b5r^u y?)r sem Lunda " ; gi-kk jarl ]>i lit ok for til svefns. IJtlu si^arr 
gckk konungr at sofa. Kplir uni morgoniun, p& er konungr klroddisk, pk ma;lti hanu vi& 
skdsvein sinn : <'gakk pu, segir hanu, til Ulfs Jafis og drep hann." Sveinniuu gekk ok var a 
brot um hri^ ok kom aptr. I>a maelti konungr: '' draptu jarl V *' Hann svarar: "eigi drap 
ek hann, pviat hann var genginn til Liiciskirkju.*' Ma^r h^t ivarr hviti, norraenn at kyni ; 
hanu var pk hir&ma&r Knuts konuugs og herbcrgi8-n)a^r hans. Konungr roooltl til Ivars: 
'* gakk pii ok drep jarl. *' ivarr gekk til kirkju ok inn i k6rinu ok lag<!>i par sverM i gGgnom 
jarl ; fekk par Ulfr jarl bana. Ivarr gikk til konnngs ok haf&i sver^it bl69ugt i hundi. Kon- 
ungr spurM : '' draptu uii jarl ?. ** Ivarr »varar : " nii drap ek bann. *' " Vel ger^ir pd pi" 
kvad hann. Eu eptir, pa er jarl var drepinn, 16tu munkar Iscsa kirkju. Pk var pat sagt kon- 
ungi. Hanu Nendi mann til munka, baT) p4 l&ta upp kirkju og sjugja tiMr ; pcir gerdu, sem 
konungr bau^. Kn er konungr kom lil kirkju, pa skeytti hann JarMr raiklar til kirkju, svi at 
pat er herad mikit, ok bufsk sa sta^r niiklt si^an ; af pvi bafa pasr jarMr par til legit siban. 
Kilutr konungr reib 8i7«an lit til skipa sinna ok var par lengi um haustit rae^ allmikinn her. " — 
^^HeifHskringla^" (Norogs Konuuga S5gur) by Snorri Sturlusun, edited by Finnur Jdniaon, II 
(containing the 6la/» Saga helga)^ pp. 370>S72 (K^benhavn 18U0). 



CHESS IN THE SAGAS U 



Fifth. This took place, after years of contest between Svend on the one hand 
and Valdemar and Canute on the other. Each King was to rule over a third 
of the realm, and each swore before the altar to preserve the compact invio- 
late. But it did not last three days. Canute asked his brother monarchs 
to spend a few days of festivity with him at Roskilde. Svend came with a 
crowd of soldiers. One evening Valdemar sat at the chess board, where the 
battle waxed warm. His adversary was a nobleman, and Canute sat by Val- 
demar's side watching the game. All at once, Canute, observing some sus- 
picious consultations between Svend and one of his captains, and feeling a 
presentiment of evil, threw his arms around Valdemar's neck and kissed him : 
— " Why so merry, cousin T' asked the latter, without removing his eyes from 
the chess-board. "You will soon see," replied Canute. Just then the armed 
soldiery of Svend rushed into the apartment and instantly drew their swords. 
But when King Valdemar saw this, he sprang up from his seat at the chess board 
and wrapped his mantle about his arm to serve as a shield, because he, his 
opponent at chess and King Canute were all without arms, for no one expected 
violence. Valdemar was the first of them all to march towards his assailants, 
and plunged with such force against I^6ttleif, one of the assassins, that they 
both fell through the door; then another, T61i Hemingsson, struck at King Val- 
demar, wounding his thigh, but not deeply, for his weapon scarcely reached 
the bone ; he also received a cut on the thumb. But when Valdemar's men, who 
were without, suddenly became aware that he had fallen, they covered him with 
their bodies, and were all hewn in pieces. But he was thus enabled to make 
his escape, and lives in history as the powerful Valdemar the Great. Canute, 
however, was slain, and was sometimes called by his countrymen St. Canute.*^— 
Perhaps it will not be greatly out of place to note that in the following cen- 
tury chess again makes it appearance upon the historic stage of Denmark, 
though at too late a date to be recorded by any Icelandic sagaman. At that 
period, Eric Plovpenning or Pioughpenny (so called because of a penny tax 

'^ " Annan dag eptir drukka ]>eir nllir, konunnfarulr i einu berbergit ok voru katir. Menu 
Sveins konungs hOf^u torg ok akemtan, ok leika liti hja herbergjunmn, ok drifu menn |iaugat 
til or herbergjununi, er ileiS dafj^fun, ok )>6tti miJunnm |iat k&tara, enn at aitja cinart vl5 drykk^ 
inn; var ]>& f&tt manna i horberginu, noma pcir konungarnir; p4 koinu t>&r ion menn Svelns 
konungfl, I*£ttleifr RManmon ok nokkorir menn a^rir, ok b&kuu^u til 8veiu« konnngs. Ilann 
Btod upp i muti t>cim, ok lolu^uiit ]>eir vVb litla hri^ ok )>6 leynilcga ; 6i<)an gokk Sveinn kon- 
ungr lit rae7> t>oira, hann gekk i bus citt, ok liyrgM aik par, nn I^^ttleifr ok Toli Hemingsaou 
ok l^ngrar kveiaa ok aftrir virktaincnn Sveioa kouiinga au6ru \tk aptr til herbcrgia aina, par er 
peir Valdimarr konuogr aitii fyrlr ok Kndtr konungr. Valdimarr konuU)(r l^k at akaktafli 
vid annann mann, on Kndtr konungr aat i palliuunf hji honnm ; ok er putr I>ittloirr geuga i 
dyrnar, laut Kndir konungr til Vaidimara konunga, ok kysti banu. Valdimar konnngr ai eigi 
af taflina, ok apurM : hx\ erta mi ava blidr, migr. Kndtr konungr avaradi : vita muntu pat 
br&tt. Sveina menn pudtu p& inn bverr at oi)rum ok allir alvapnaMr, pclr brug&u pegar averdun- 
um. Rn er Valdimarr konungr a& pat, blj6p bann upp, ok vaHSi akikkjiinni um bond a£r, er 
bann bafdi yflr a6r, pviat poir voru vapniauair inni, pviat ungi viaai dfridarvan. Valdimarr kon- 
ungr blJ6p upp ok fraro 4 g6IHt fyrat allra manna ainna; bann atikiaM avi bart upp 4 Pottleif, 
at peir fellu b4:^lr utar fyrir dyrnar ; p4 bj6 Toll Ilemingrsflon til Vaidimara konnnga, ok kom 
pat b5gg 4 laorlt ok var pat avu^iia4r og ekki bgettligt; baun var?) ok a4r 4 punialflngri. Ok er 
menn Vaidimara konunga a4, at bann var fallinn, p4 IGgiSuat peir 4 bann ofan, ok voru par 
aaxadir, en Valdimarr konungr koraat vifi petta undan. I>4komat I>«&ttlcifr 4 fietr, ok bjd pegar 
6fgri bendi til Kndta konnnga, ok var^ pat bogg av4 mikit, at bann klauf allt bofadit til b41a, 
ok var pat bana banaa4r. Anuarr madr veitti ok Kuiiti konungi 4verka, a4 er IIj4lmavidarr 
b^t. Kndtr konungr f^ll i einn akoratuin ; aegja Danir baun belgan.'* — Fommanna SSgur, pnb- 
liabed by tbe Royal Soeiety of Northern Antiquaries, XI (containing tbe Knytlinga 8aga)j 
pp. S66-S67 (KaupmannahSfn 1898). 



12 CffESS IN ICELAND 



laid in his brief reign on each plough in the kingdom), had begun to rule 
wisely and well over the fierce and war-loving people of his realm — tlion a 
much bigger country than now. In the summer of 1250 he was on his way 
to defend the town of Rendsburg on the Eider, against the attack of some 
predatory German bands, when he received an invitation from his brother 
Abel to visit him in Slesvig. The unsuspicious and open-hearted Eric ac- 
cepted. After dinner, on the ninth of August, the very day of his arrival under 
the fatal roof, he retired to a little pavilion near the water, to enjoy a quiet 
game of chess with a knight whose name was Ilenrick Kerkwerder. As they 
were thus engaged, the black-hearted Abel entered the room, marched up to 
the chess-table, accompanied by several of his retainers, and began to over- 
whelm the King with abuse. Finally the unfortunate Eric was seized, 
thrown into chains, and basely murdered the same night. Poor King ! Little 
did he merit so cruel a checkmate, for the commencement of his career was 
full of promise for himself an<l his dominions. 

{>orgil8 Sa^a skarda. 

Our next chess event took place in 1241-42 and is narrated in the saga 
of Porgils skarOi (which is to say, Porgils of the harelip). It chances also 
that this incident, like one already treated, has a certain relation to Snorri 
Sturluson, for Gizur Porvaldsson — known as Earl Gizur (Gizur Jarl) in Ice- 
landic history-— who appears in it, was the chief actor in the assassination of 
the great histori.in. BoOvar, the son of t*6rcSur Sturluson, and therefore the 
nephew of Snorri, after the conclusion of the political feud which termi- 
nated in his uncle's death, was obliged not only to take an oath of feudal 
lealty to Gizur, the enemy of his house, but to hand over to the latter as 
hostages his own son (I^orgils Boi^varsson, the one who afterwards became 
noted as Porgils skarSi) and his own brother (Guthormur I^6riSarson). I^or- 
gils was at that time only fifteen years of age, but sturdy of arm and will 
as became the race he sprang from. He spent the first winter at Gizur's 
residence, called Tunga, and Gr6a, Gizur's wife, treated him most kindly. It 
happened, one day, that Porgils and Samur Magnusson, a kinsman of Gizur, 
quarreled over a game of chess. SAmur wanted to tAke back a knight, which 
he had set en prise (t uppndm)^ but Porgils would not permit him to do it. 
Then one of Gizur's retainers, called Markus MarOarson, advised that the 
knight should be allowed to go back to its old square, " and don't bo brawl- 
ing at chess 1 " he added, torgils said that he did n't intend to accept either 
counsel or command from Markus, and suddenly swept the men off the table, 
and let them fall into their pouch ; then, standing up, he struck at the ear 
of Samur (with the pouch of chessmen, as the construction would seem to 
imply), so that the ear bled. At the same time he exclaimed : — **It is much to 
know that we cannot venture to hold ourselves equal in anything to the kins- 
men of Gizur. " Then there was a running out of the room to inform Gizur of 
the deed, and of Porgils' slighting remark ; Gizur entered and asked whether 
Sdmur did n't dare to avenge himself. Guthormur and Gr6a were sitting on the 
same settle, when Gizur came into the room, and they heard that he scolded 
the boys angrily; whereupon they drew near, and a priest with them. Porgils 
was answering Gizur in a way that was very provoking. Gr6a took her 
husband's hand and said: — ** Why do you act in such an angry way? 1 should 



CffESS IN THE SAGAS 13 



think that you are the person to be responsible, even if he should do some- 
thing demanding legal compensation '' — meaning? that Gi/.ur was obliged by 
law to pay flnes for acts committed by liostages while in his household or 
charge. Gizur answered :—*' As to that I will not accept your judgment."' 
She replied : — " Then I will pay the fine, if we be adjudged. "' With that they 
led J*orgils aside, and begged him to reply submissively to Gizur, but I^or- 
gils cried out that he would not do that. Various persons then offered their 
advice, calling the whole thing a childish affair. So the matter was allowetl 
to rest, but after that Gizur was always colder towards Porgils. 'J"* — This story 
is interesting in more than one way. It shows that even youth — of the better 
classes — were, at that day, acquainted with chess ; that the custom was to 
keep the chess-sots in pouches, or purposely-made bags; and that chess 
nomenclature thus early included a phrase equivalent to our en prise. The 
young chessplayer^ I^orgils, became in time a champion of high importance, 
warmly trusted by his friends and feared by his enemies, and of all Iceland- 
ers of his time stood highest in the regard of the Norwegian King, Hakon 
the Old. He was slain in a political fight January 22, 1258, only thirty-two 
years of age, and his saga — which is a part of the great Sturlunga saga — was 
written not many years afterwards. 

OuSmundar Sag^ g^68a. 

We have alluded, on another page of this volume, to a bishop of Sk^lholt 
in Iceland who was popularly canonized and styled St. Thorlak. A like in- 
stance also occurs in the history of Iceland's northern see — that of Hdlar. 
GuOmundur the Holy, a most pious prelate, who presided over the H61ar 
diocese, died in the year 1237, and many were the miracles performed by him 
both before and after death. His successor was B6t61fur, a Norwegian, whose 
unauthorized consecration by the primate of Throndhjem was not very grate- 
fully received by the Icelandic clergy and people who were thus placed under 
his jurisdiction. His life is contained in a short appendix (for he held his of- 
fice only eight years) to the saga of Bishop GuSmund, and it includes the 
following anecdote: — "It happened once in H61ar, at Christmas, that two 
deacons, or minor priests, were playing chess, one of whom was hasty of 
speech and quarrelsome. Bishop B6t61f came into the room, sat down on a 
settle in front of the players, and interfered in the play by giving advice to 
one of the combatants, in whose favor the game soon began to turn, so that he 
was near mating his adversary, a feat which was largely the result of the 

^ " S& atburdr var^, at \>& skilM & um ufl, I>orgilR BSdvarsson ok Sim Magui'uioii frxnda 
Oisurar, vildi S&mr bera nptr riddara, it hanu hafTd tclft i uppn&ro, en Porgils l6t l>vi ckki iik. 
Pk lagbi til Marki\i Mar^amon, at aptr skildi bera rid>iar.aau, ' Ok \\i\'b ykkr okki k ikilja um 
tafl. * Porgils gagdivk ckki fyrir bana or<!> niiinda gora ; ok svarfai^i tafliiiu, ok 16t i puu^iinn ; ok 
8t67> upp ; ok lauit vi6 eyra 84mi, %vk at blseddi, ok mscltl vid: ' Mikit er ]}at at vita, at vdr 
•kullrn ongan hlut i>ora at balda til jafos viA fr.Tndr Gisarar. * I>4 var fraoi hiaupit ok iiagt 
Olzuri ; ok kom liann inn, ok spurM hv&rt Simr liyrM eigl at hefna tin. I>aa Uuthormr ok 
Oroa hQCba leti^&palli er Qizurr kdm i stofu, ok heyr^u at hann andsaka^i avcinana reidalega; 
geng^ ]>au til ok preatr me^ ]>eini. Porgiln svarar Qixuri holdr gkapraunar-sauiliga. Gr6a t6k 
i hOnd Gixari ok niselti : *IIvi I;etr ])t\ s?i roi^ulega? ro6r lirotti ]>ueiga fyrlr at svara, ]}6tt hann 
hcr7»i l>a5 Qokkii^ gdrt or b6t-i>urra vscri. ' Gisurr svarar: *Rigi vil ek a ])CHU |>inu dom.* 
Ii6n svarar:' £k skal ]}6 br«ta ef }>arr. * Lniddu |>aa I>orgiIs k brott, ok bkbn |>aa hanu vol 
■vara Gizuri ; en I>orgils kvczk |>at uigl muudu gOra. Lfigi^n ]}4 inargir til, ok kfilln^a }>etta 
vera bernsku-bragd. F^ll l>at ]>& niftr ; ok var GIzarr fierri vift I*orgils en ilbr.** — Sturlunga Saga 
(which lucludua the fiorgiU Saga tkarda), edited by (iudbrandar VlgfttMon, (Oxford 1878), II., p.l05. 



14 CHESS IN ICELAND 



bishop's counsel. Then, naturally, the priest, whose game had gone so badly, 
became angry, and said to the bishop, without any regard to the latter*8 epis- 
copal dignity: — * It is better for you, brother B6t61f, to go into the cathedral, 
and read over the talk you have got to make to-night, for what you said last 
night was all wrong ; moreover your predecessor, the holy bishop Gu^Smund, 
gave his attention rather to the saying of prayers and tlie giving of alms than 
to the schemes of chess/ Thereupon Bishop B6t61f answered his deacon more 
wisely and calmly than he had been addressed : — *Thanks, my good deacon, 
I shall take your wholesome advice, and betake myself to the cathedral. What 
you say, too, is true— many things and great things distinguished the charac- 
ter of Bishop GuOmund, when contrasted with mine.* '' The chronicle goes 
on to say that B6t61f was always thereafter a quiet and modest man — in fact, 
not severe enough for those he had to rule. He died on a visit to Thrond- 
hjem — which was called in those days Ni^ar6s — and was buried in the mon- 
astery of Helgisetur not far away from that episcopal city. *<^ 

Kr6ka-Refs Saga. 

There is a brief Icelandic saga, the text of which, in its latest and best 
edition, fills only a little over forty not very large pages, which is known as 
the saga of Kr6ka-Rofur. It is the history of an Icelander, who received 
from his parents at his birth the name of Kefur {= fox), which, on account 
of the character its bearer developed subsequently, became Kr6ka-Refur, that 
is *' Refur the wily.*' The book is full of adventures, and the number of 
manuscripts of it extant evince the popularity it long enjoyed. It has hitherto 
been classed among the fabulous sagas, but the various later editors agree in 
recognizing not a little historical truth at the bottom of it, and consider that 
some of its events, which are recorded as having taken place in the tenth 
century, were really transmitted traditionally — somewhat distorted in their 
chronology — to the period when the saga was written down, about the middle 
of the fourteenth century. The scenes are laid partly in Iceland, Norway and 
Denmark, but in good part, too, in the Ijords of Greenland, among the Ice- 
landic colonists, so that the saga belongs, in a certain sense, to the litera- 
ture which relates to the early Icelandic discovery of America. At any rate 
it shows that, three centuries and a half after the first voyages to the unexplored 
western hemisphere, the idea of commercial and friendly relations with the 
settlements in the new world, to which those voyages gave rise, was still, in 

^ " Sv& b«r til einn tima k U6\tLnta\ at julum, at tvHr dj4knar tefldii itkiktafl, var aiinarr 
djakiiiiiu 6ror>!>r ok uppivd?)Hltimikill ; kom ftk berra Rotolfr blukup inu i atofana, ok aettiat 
uidur a eiiiii kuakk par framan at 8ciu klcrkarnlr telfdii, UrM hanu til iiie& G5rnm klerklnam, 
t6k [tkoLb Uallagl tatiit, Mv&ut u^ruin var komii at m4tl, montaf tillSguin bliikti|>«; roiddlst klerkr* 
inn, ■& or vcrr K«>kk taflit, mvA legjaudi til biHkupt: betra or p^r, br6^ir R6t6irrl at fara At 
til kirkju ok rJ4 yflr ra^rtinK pinn, or pili kit at lesa i nutt, pviat ]f& lant allt rangt \ fyrrl n6U; 
atarfaM ok Ciu&muudr biskup, som fyrir pik var, inoirr i basnabaldi ok (ilmusuKjfirdum en i 
taflbrog^uin. I>k svarar berra Butulfr biskup djAkitanum aptr i gegn, betr ok fa6gvserliflrftr en 
til var talat : haf pOkk fyrir, dj&knl minn ! petta pitt boilra^IM ikai ek hafa, at fara til kirkja, 
■egir pu pat ok salt, at mart ok inikit inuu akilja hcrra OiiAmtind ok mik. Var borra B6t6lfr, 
biflkup i olliim hlntuni bogvierr ok litill&tr, ok kom oigl Htjurn k v\h sina nndirmenn aem lisfM; 
var ok a bans dlignm litill gaumr at gefinn, at balda upp jartegnuni Gu^mandar biskapa. Var 
baon Ilulablaktip iim viij &r, ok fur otaa ok andadist I NiTutruai ok bvilir at Helginetri.** — 
Biiknpa SCgur II. (containing the appendix, or Vidhatir^ to the Qui9mtindar Saga hint gdda by 
Abbot Arngrimur), pp. 186-187 (Kaapmannahdfu 1878). 



CHFSS IN THE SAGAS 15 



the minds of the Icelanders, a familiar one. Ref, having killed a man in a 
feud — for feuds and killings were ordinary things in those days—is obliged to 
betake himself, as an outlaw, to Greenland, where he gets possession of some 
land in a not easily discovered and quite uninhabited region on the upper 
shores of a fjord, which lay far North of the Vcstri-byg9, the remoter of the 
two districts of the Icelandic colony. This fjord is described with much detail, 
and has been supposed to be the Franz-Joseph's fjord, rediscovered some thirty 
years ago by the second German Arctic expedition. *' Later on. King Harald 
harOr^Oi of Norway sends another Icelandic voyager, BarOur, to Greenland to 
bring him back some of the products of that country. In executing his com- 
mission Bar9 becomes intimate with Gunnar, the principal man of the colonists, 
and from him learns all about Ref, who has meanwhile got into fresh difficulties, 
not of his own seeking, and has been obliged to fortify his lonely dwelling on the 
distant inner fjord. Henceforward BdrcS seems to regard it as a special mission 
to bring Ref to justice. But with the many turns of Refs affairs— his clever 
evasions of his foes, his defences of his strongly guarded dwelling, to which 
he had even contrived to lead concealed water-pipes from the neighbouring 
mountains, his changes of name and abode — we have nothing further to do. 
Having assumed his final name of Sigtryggur, he rose to distinction under 
the protection of the king of Denmark, who assigned him a residence, in whicli 
he lived for many winters. At last ho made himself ready for an expiatory 
pilgrimage to the holy city {hjo hann fer^ sina ut i Romaborg or/ sotti heim hinn 
helga Pclur postula^ as they expressed it in the days of the saga- writers), but 
he fell mortally ill on his way back, and was buried in a rich monastery in 
France. I^orm69ur, his son, returned to Iceland after the fall of the Norwegian 
King Harald, who had pursued his father, acquired land at a place called 
Kvennabrekka, and married; from him, says the saga, have sprung many 
gifted men. 

The chess episode of this tale is a somewhat obscure one.*^ Bar9, after 
we left him in Greenland, returned to Norway with a cargo, Gunnar seizing 

*^ " Die xwclte deuUcbe NordpoUrfahrt in den Jahren 1869 uud 1870 unter Fahrung de« 
Kapit&n Karl Koidewey, Enter Band. Lelpsig 1873. **— This reference is given by Palral 
rilsson, editor of the Kr61ia'Ref« Saga, in hii preface (p. xxxi), but It has been impossible 
to verify it. He speaks of the Identification of IlePs fjord with the Franz-Joieph's fjord as 
made by Dr. Konrad Mauror— the highest of all authorities on any matter relating to Ice- 
land — but in the two essays on "QrSnIand im Mlttelalter" and "Oronlands Wiedereutdeck- 
ung,** which Dr. Maurer eontributed to the volume cited, no statement relating to such 
ideotiflcation ia to Im> found. In the same sentence rilmi Pilsson also cites the *' Sturluuga 
Saga" edited by Dr. OuSbrand Vlgfiissou (Oxford 1878), in the *' Prologouiena *' of which 
(p. Ixili), the editor says of the *' Kroka-llefs Saga '* that it " shows real local knowledge 
on the part of the author, so that Dr. Maurer has even believed it possible to identify a firth 
whieh he deseribes as the lately-discovered Franz-Joaeph's fjord." But Dr. Gulbbraud Yig- 
fdsson gives no reference to any of Dr. Maurer's writings. 

^ "Gunnar sendir Haraldi kouungi ])rji gripi; |>a9 var hvita-bJ6rn fullii^a og vandr 
4gaDta vel ; annar gripr var tnnntafl og gort med miklum hagleik ; ])r!9Ji grlpr var roatuugsbaus 
med Sllum t5nnum sinum, hann var grafinn nllr og viSa rent i guilt ; teunnrnar voru fastar {, 
hausluum ; var pht allt bin mesta gcrsimi. rar5r lietr nti i haf og ferst vel ; kom hann i pxr 
st5dvar, scm hann mundl kjosa. Ilauu fierbi Haraldi konuugi luargan grseuleuKkan varn- 
iug igsctan. Fcrr B&rSr fyrir kounug eiun dag og ntselti : ** UJer er eitt tafl, hcrra, er yt>r 
seudi hinn gdfgazti ma^r af Grscnlandi, er Gunnar heitir, og vill okki f6 fyrir hafa, heldr 
vinfeingi y^ar. Yar eg nie^ honum ij vctr og var9 mer hann g69r dreugr; viil hann gjama 
vera viu y^ar. ** Pad var b»M hneftafl og skiiktafl. Konungr leit a urn hrid og ba& hann 
hafa l)okk fyrir, er siikt sendi, " skulu v6r vist viuittu vora i ni6ti leggja." — Kroka-Be/s 
Saga og Kroka-Be/t rimur, udgiveu af Pilmi P&lsson (Kdbeuhavn '1883), p. S3. 



16 CHESS IN ICELAND 



the occasion to send to King Harald three valuable gilts of Greenlandic origin. 
These are a full-grown while bear in good condition; htanntafl, made with 
great skill ; and the skull of a walrus (or perhaps some object formed out of 
the jaws), having all its teeth, which were carved and, in places, enamelled 
with gold. When the tanntafl is presented to the King, BarOur accompanies 
the gift with this speech :— ** Here is a <a/?, my lord, which is sent to you by 
the foremost man in Greenland, who is called Gunnar; he demands nothing 
for it except your friendship. I was with him two winters, and he treated 
me nobly; he will most gladly have your favor." Then the writer adds: 
— ''':^a^ var hwH hneftafl og shlfUaff/' This statement would be most in- 
teresting could we make sure of comprehending it rightly. Tanntofl (tann 
= tooth, or tusk) may mean : — 1, a set of men used in playing any game of 
tables, made of (walrus) teeth, or (walrus) tusk ; or it may possibly signify: — 
2, a board for such a game, made out of the same material ; or one may 
conceive that it might include:— 3, both the men and the board. This is, 
however, little more than guess-work, on account of the dubious signification 
of the word tafl, which we discuss elsewhere. It is also diilicult to under- 
stand the final underscored phrase except by assigning to tanntafl the second 
of the three meanings which we have indicated. Literally the phrase reads: — 
''It [i. c. X\\Q tanntafl] was both a hnefatafl [board for i>laying Imcfatafl] and 
a chess board." Now we do n't know precisely what short of a game hnefatafl 
was, nor can we be certain that the writer intends to say that the two games 
were played on a board, marked or designed in precisely the same way for 
whichever game it was used. It may possibly be that the surfaces used for 
the tw^o games were of quite unlike forms, and that the board was both a 
hnefahorch and a shakhor^y because one was drawn upon one side of the board 
and the other upon the other, as one sees old (or even modern) chessboards 
having upon the reverse side a fox-and-geese board, or a twelve-man-morris 
board. Were the meaning that only a chessboard, with its sixty-four squares, 
was represented, and that it was used also for hnefatafl, it would go far to 
tell us what hnefatafl was, namely, that it was draughts (checkers), or some 
allied sport. There is little doubt that an Icelander writing in the fourteenth 
century would know all about the game: perhaps it was even so faniiliar a 
diversion that the author of the saga took no pains to describe it precisely. 

M&gu8 Saga. 

In the varied domain of the literature written in the speech of Iceland a 
special Hchl is occupied by the romantic or knightly sagas. These are mainly 
translations, or paraphrases, of tales drawn from the mediiuval legendary 
cycles of western Europe. In their Icelandic form they date back to the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and are the work of writers attSiched to 
the Norwegian court. In one of these compositions, the long Karlamagnus 
saga, there is a casual mention of chess. It is stated — we quote from both 
the extant manuscripts, one of which is slightly earlier than the other — that 
the renowned champion Oddgeir (Holger Danske) was playing chess with Glo- 
riant, a daughter of King Ammiral {pan Oddgeir oh honungs dottir lekti at 
shdhtafli), when ill tidings were brought in, whereupon Oddgeir shoved the 
board from his knees and spake {Oddgeir s haul taflhor^inn af hnjdm ser ok 
ma^lti)^^ concerning the evil intelligence thus received. 

'^ " KarlaiiingiiUH sa^a ug ka|<pa bau!«,** edited by C K. Unger (Cliriiitiaiiia 1859), p 111. 



CHESS IN THE SAGAS 17 



There is a still more incidental allusion to the game in another of these 
"sagas of the southern lands" (sdgur Su^urlanda), as they have been styled. 
This is the "Tristrams saga ok Isondar''— a romantic narrative, romotHy 
of Celtic origin, which exists very nearly in the same form in early English 
(the poem of "Sir Tristrem,'' written in the last years of the 13th century), 
in Middle High German (the metrical romance, "Tristan und Isolde,'' written 
by Gottfried von Strassburg early in the 13th century), and in Icelandic (in 
prose). This last was translated from the French by command of King Hakon 
Hakonsson (the Old) of Norway in 1226. The author of the version is stated 
to be a monk called Robert, who is likewise named as translator of another 
of these stories of the South, the "Elis saga ok R6samundu." Fragments 
of the Tristrams saga are to be found in a vellum codex of the 15th century 
(including, as it happens, the portion containing the references to chess, 
which does not vary essentially, in this respect, from the later transcript); 
but it is complete only in a paper MS of the 17th century. The French poem 
on the same theme, which served as the ground-text of the three versions 
here indicated, is almost wholly lost. As to the Northern saga, whoever the 
friar Robert might have been, his work was, at a later day, revamped by an 
Icelander in Iceland, but this production is inferior both in style and inci- 
dent to the Norwegian narrative. It was likewise transformed in Iceland 
into a popular ballad (the "Tristramskv»Si '').*> The hero of the saga, Tris- 
tram, at the date of the chess episode a boy of extraordinary activity and 
accomplishments — precocious youths are common in these old sagas, an in- 
dication of the early development in strength and character of the Scandi- 
navian races — went one day with his fosterfather, his tutor and brothers, to 
visit a Norse vessel, which had just arrived in the harbor near the castle 
in which he dwelt, laden with many strange and rare things from divers 
lands. Tristram, already skilful in the languages, talked with the merchants 
and sailors, and bought some beautiful birds, which he gave to his brothers. 
Then, the saga goes on, he saw there a chessboard, and asked if any one 
of the merchants would play with him ; one came forward, and they set the 
pieces, each staking at the same time a considerable sum on the game. When 
his fosterfather saw that he was sitting at the chessboard he said to him : 
— "My son, I am going home; your teacher will wait for, you and accom- 
pany you, when you are ready." This master, who remained behind, was 
a courteous and gentle knight. But the merchants wondered at the youth, 
and praised his wisdom, his accomplishments, his beauty and agility, his 
quickness of wit and manly bearing, in which he excellod them all; and 
they thought that if they could carry him away with them, great gain would 
accrue to them from his expertness and proflciencies, and also that, if they 
chose afterwards to sell him, they might obtain a large sum of money. As 
the youth sat there absorbed in his game, they secretly hauled in the 
cable and anchor, and worked the ship out of the harbor. The boat had its 
awning up, and was moved along gently by the breeze and current, so that 

^ For an abstract of theatory aa rewritten in Icoland see:— ** Die nordische und die eug- 
Itsche version derTrisUn-Sage,'* edited by Kugeu KClbiog (Heilbronn 1878-88), I., pp. xv-xvi.~ 
For the " Tristramsycva?^! " see the *' Islenzlt fornkvsefti," edited by 8ven Qrundtvig and J6n 
KigurSsson (KJobeuhavn 1861-85), I., pp. 186-207. IJut the ballad,— which Is printed from 
three varying MSS — does not contain the chess incident, relating only to the loves and mis- 
fortonea of Tristram and Isdnd. 



18 CHESS IN ICELAND 



Tristram was not aware of the changed situation until they were at a dis- 
tance from the land. Then he said to the merchants: — "Why are you 
doing this?'' They answered:— "Because we will that you accompany us." 
Then lie began to weep and to be distressed, and to bewail, as did also the 
knight, out of his love to Tristram, their sad condition. Thereupon the Norse- 
men took his teacher and lot him down into a boat, giving him an oap. And 
now the sails are set and the ship is at full speed, but Tristram is sitting sad 
and sorrowful at the mercy of these strangers, ^i Afterwards he wanders about 
— a Northern Ulysses — for a long time, meeting with many marvelous adven- 
tures. In the English poem, Tristrem, as he is there called, catches sight of 
a chessboard on a chair, and wagers with a sailor twenty shillings against a 
hawk; he wins six hawks, which he oflFers to his brothers; and his foster- 
father, Rohand, taking the fairest one, bids him good bye, and walks away 
with the other youths. Tristrem continues to play, and gains a hundred 
pounds by his skill, but suddenly noticing that the boat is moving, weeps 
sorely. Then his master is sent oflf with the boat and oar, and Tristrem is 
left a captive. 5^ 

A third one of these knightly romances, the "BragOa-Magus saga,'' has 
two long chess episodes, not unlike each other. King Jatmundur, by some 
called LoOdvikus {sumar nefna hann Jttliann, er hann 16k keisaratign; en 
mcr pikkir avo helzt til visa sd titull, er af cefi keisaramia cr skrifa^r^ at 
hann mimi verii ha fa sonarson Karlamagniis keisara, ok svo segja flestar 
hcekr^ at hann hafi IjO^ovikus heiiit)^ who ruled over Saxony (Saxland), finds 
a princess captive in the hands of a Jarl, Hirtungur, and longs to possess 
her. He demands the amount of her ransom. The Jarl replies that he will 
only release her in return for three objects of great value belonging to the 
King. These three things the Jarl was to be allowed to select. After con- 
sultation with one of his counsellors, the monarch tells the Jarl that he will 
accept the terms, with the proviso that, if he choose, he may subsequently 
redeem the three valuable objects by substituting for them two costly gold 
rings, which shall be deemed of half the value of the precious objects pawned; 
for the other half of the debt the Jarl and he are to play three games at chess, 
the winner to possess all the valuables in question. The Jarl agrees, and 

• 

'^ Besides the edition of tliia saga by Kugen Kolbing, already cited, there is another by 
the Icelandic scholar, Qisli Bryojulfssoo, "Saga af Tristram olc Istiud samt MSttuls saga*' 
(Kjobenhavn 1878). The text of the passage cited is here taken from the edition of Kdlbing 
(p. 18) :— **Si^aD s& haun par slcaktaflsbor?) ok spur^i, ef uokkurr kaupmanua vildi tefla 
vi^ haun, ok eiuu for til, ok scttu \»\:\r ok ir>g7iu vid roikit fc. Bern fostri bans sa, at hann 
sat at skaktaflsbor^i, \tk nix>ltl haun til bans: 'Son minn,* segir haun, * ek geng helm, en 
nicistari i>iun biM piu og fylgi \>ev beim, l>a ur ])U ert bulun,' og dvaldist h& ra«9 hintim 
einn kurteiss og hn^vurskr riddari. Kn kaupoienn uudru^u lieiina uuga iiiann og lofu^u kuun- 
ustu bans, list ok fegr^ ok atgMr9, vizkti ok me^ferTi, er haun upp lek \>k alia, og ibnguftu 
|>eir, at ef ]>oir koami hanum brutt nie9 s^r, at Jicim myndi miktt gagn af standa hauskunu- 
ustu ok margfraedi, sva ok, ef t>elr Yilja seija hann, !>& tk ])cir mikit f6 fyrir hann. Sem 
haun sat gcymandi loikslns, |)a drogu ])eir upp sem leyuiligast streugi siua ok akkeri ok l^tu 
ut bcra skipit ur vagtnum. Hkipit var tjaldat ok rak fyrlr vindiuum ok strauminuui, sva at 
Tristram var9 ekki varr v'ib fyr enn t)eir vara fjarri laudi; }>a ui.Tlti hann til kaupmanna: 
— • Ilerrar,' segir haun, * hvi vlll J)6r svA goraV I»eir segja: — * Pyrir J)vi at v6r viljuiu, 
at pu fylgir oas.* I>a tok hann ))cgar at grata ok ilia lata ck sjalfau sik barmandi ok svi 
riddariun, sakir istsenidar ; ok ]>& toku Nor^meuu mei«tara bans ok 16tu i bat ok fengn 
bauum ar eina. Nii cr uppi seglit ok skipit fullskri^a, eu Trisirani sitr nu i t>ei''ra valdi i 
barmi ok bugiott." 

^^ In the second volume of Kdlblug*s work is the Knglisb '' Sir Tristrem,*' of which i>lr 



CHESS tN The Sagas 



li) 



says:— **I need not go to your camp or treasury to select the three things 
I desire; I choose, as ransom for tlio maiden, the horse you now sit on; 
tlie falcon which rests on your wrist; and the sword which hangs at your 
side." "Even if you had searched my treasury," replies the King, "you 
could not have chosen three objects which I so unwillingly part with; but, 
however that may be, I shall stand by our agreement." He then strips 
himself of the three rare possessions, and sends them by his man Hr61fur 
to the princess that she may herself purchase her freedom. But he orders 
to be brouglit a beautiful chessboard which he owns, and declares himself 
already ready to play the three stipulated games. The two begin their 

Walter Soolt publinhed in 1801 an elaborate edition. Tbo following atanxa^ (xxix-xxxiii) 
describe the carrying off of TriRtraui : — 



A rbcker he fond bl a cheiro 
Ifo asked, wbo wold play. 
Pe roarinur apae bonair : 
"Child, what wiltow lay?" 
*' Ogain an hanke of noble air 
Tventi acbilllngea, to nay! 
Whe])er so maten o]>er fair, 
J)ere hem bo]>o oway. " 
WIp wille 

I>e mariner Rwore his faye : 
♦' For sol>o, ich hold \ter tlllo I " 

Now boI>e her wedde ]yt 
And play [lal biglnne ; 
Yflctt he haj> po long aniae 
And endred be]> ]>er Inne. 
P« play biginne]) to ariiie, 
TriHtram dele]) atvinne ; 
lie dede als ao )>e wine : 
Ho gaf haa he gan winne 
In raf; 

Of playe ar he wald bllnne, 
Sex haiikcA he gat and gaf. 



Kohand toke leue to ga, 
IIIr Ron«.s ho cicped oway; 
Pe fairest haoke he gan ta, 
Pat Triatrem wan )>at day. 
Wi]> him he loft ma 
Pans for to play ; 
Pe mariner awore al so, 
Pat pana wold he lay 
An atounde ; 
Triatrem wan I>at day 
Of him an hundred poande. 

Tristrem wan (lat |>er was layd. 
A treHonn ]>er was made. 
No longer ]>an I>e maister seyd, 
Of gate naa |>er no bade. 
As |>ai best sat and playd, 
Oat of baoen t>al rade ; 
Open )>e ae so gray 
Fram ]>e brimea brade 
Gun flete : 

Of lod |>ai were wel glade. 
And Tristrem aoro wepe. 



His maister ]>an ]>ai fand 
A bot and an are : 
Ilye seyden : ** Zond is ]>e land. 
And here schaltow to bare: 
Obese on ai]>er hand, 
Whe)>er t>e leuer ware 
Sink or atille stand : 
Pe child schal wi|> oos fare 
On aod ! »» 

Tristrem wepe ful sare, 
Pal loug and ])ougt it gode. 

ThoRe stanxaa are in volume II of Kolbing*s pnblieatlon, pp. 11-12. Once more, in this 
old Kngliah poem, rhcsR is mentioned. It is when Tristram goes to Ireland. He had been 
severely wounded, but ho was still a man fair to gaxo at (stan/a CXII, p. 35): — 

An heye man he was like. 
Pel he wer wounded sare ; 
Ilia glea weren so sellike, 
Pat wonder ])ongt hem [tare. 
Ilia harp, his eroude was rike ^ 
Ilifl tables, his ches he bare. 



Here is a distinction made between tablet and eA«««, aa elsewhere In early Engllab. 



20 CffESS IN ICELA ND 



games. The first one is of long duration, but at last the King finds himself 
mated by his adversary's rook {Konungr fdhh hroJismdt). The Jarl at once 
exclaims : — **I have won the precious objects; I don't care to play any more." 
The King answers : — " We shall now play the sjccond game.'* Then they 
played the second time, and that contest turned out much worse. The King 
had to submit to a mate given by a pawn. The Jarl said: — "Little conso- 
lation do you derive from the game of chess, for now I own your costly 
objects ; methinks you must see by this time that you cannot play against 
me. Besides I would rather that you retain your beloved pieces of property; 
80 we won't play any longer, since I do not care to offend you too griev- 
ously. " But the King cried out: — "Do you think you have me in your 
power ? We shall play the whole match as agreed upon. " ** I merely wished," 
said the Jarl, "to save you from the most disgraceful of all mates." That ill 
speech made the King so angry that he could give little heed to the final 
game, which terminated in a mate given by the very pawn opposite the mon- 
arch's king at its first move. 23 The Jarl suddenly rose and rushed into the 
castle. The King was greatly enraged against the Jarl, and longed to get 
back, by any means, the treasures he had lost; but the Jarl guarded his 
castle on every side, and went up into the tower and, looking down at the 
King, shouted : — " Thus do we play with over bearing men!"'** And the 
princess was no more in the King's power than before he sent her his horse, 
his falcon and his sword. 

Before we reach the next mention of chess in the saga a new character 
comes upon the scene, namely, the fifteen year old Ilognvaldur, a son of the 

^ The definition of this mate In not very clear. It Recms to bo a male given by the 
pawn of the adversary which Rtands on the Icing's filo, and which— one of tlie weakest of the 
chessmen — von tiiroH to move straight at the enemy's most important piece. At least, this It 
the definition found In the old lexicon of Glaus Verclias, '< Index lingva^ veteris Scytho- 
Bcandise *' (IJpsalia; 1691), pp. 81-82 ftuh voce. The name of the mate, as given in the text. Is 
/retatfrtumdt, a vulgar epithet, if taken in its literal meaning. But Johan Fritcner, in bis 
" Ordbog over det gamle norske Sprog " (2d edition, Kristiania 18G6), I., p. 485, suh coee^ 
declares its real derivation to bo from /er*- {^- vizier), the roudi.Tval name of the qoeen— be 
refers to v. d. Linde's " Oeschichte des Sehachspiels *' in this connection— and Its apparent 
relation with the Icelandic verb freta (of coarse signification) to be thus only an instance of 
erroneous popular etymology. See also his explanation of the synonymous vocablo, fudryttu- 
mat, in which he rather complicates the matter. The truth is that these terms are by no 
means the sole instances of such forcible and ungentle expressions used to describe the mates 
possible in the now antiquated style of chess-play in Iceland. For other examples, see the 
"Kvse^l eptir Stefin 6lafsson," edited by Dr. J6n I>orkelsson, the younger (Kaupraannahufu 1885) 
II, p. 49, as well as the CHsay in the present volume by Mr. Olafur Davidsson. These vulgar 
appellations are now wholly out of date among leelandio players. But consult on all these 
subjects various later pages in the present volume. 

^ " Konungr lictr taka eitt kgvaii tnii, er hann dttl. Taka Jieir )>& til at tefla, ok varft 
]>etta tafl mjuk langt, en svo l^^kr ))eirra i milium at konungr f<^kk hruksm&t. Jarl moelti : 
unnit hefi ek gripina, ok hlrSi ek eigl Icngr at tefla. Konungr mcRlli : tefla skulum vit annat 
tafl. Peir tefldu nii annat, ok er |>at mikln skemmra, ok f^kk konungr pe^smat. Jarl rooelti : 
litit transt megi ]}^r hafa k tatlinu, ok a ek nii gripina ; liikki mi^r t)at mi reynt, attil tkUi 
ekki vi% mik at tefla. Ntk vil ek heldr, atlti cigir einu gripina, ok teflum vit eigi lengr, }>vi 
at ek vil eigi angra hug l>inn. Konungr ma;lti : hyggst })ii ^k eiga vald k m^r ? Skulum vit 
tefla CIl tSfi, sem moelt var. Jarl moelU : eigl mun ])at ok ]>urfa at spara at gera )>ik sem 
brakligastan i ni&tinu. ViS ])at lilmoeli varK konungr rei^r, svo hann gkU ekki at taflinu ; 
gekk ))etta Ufl skemmst af, ok f<^kk konungr freUtertumit. Spratt Jarl snart k foetr, ok 
hafM sik Inn i borgina. Konungr varS mjdk reihr Jarli, ok vildl fyrir hvetvetna tk aptr ]>& 
gripl, er jarl af honum tefldi. Jarl loetr t\A aptr Idka 511 borgarhlidin ; siSan gengr hann i 
tnrnlnn, er yfir hlilMnn var, ok moeiti : svo erum ver vanir at leika ofstopamenn.'* — Broyda- 
Mdgut Saga, edited by Ounnlangnr P6r9arton (KaupmaunahGfa 18&8), pp. SS-S3. 



CHESS TN TTIE SAGAS 21 



Jarl Amuiidi. Though still a boy, he— like Tristram, of whom we have just 
read— was an adept in all the accomplishments of the day, and it was whis- 
pered that King Lo56vikus (Louis), though older, was filled with Jealousy of 
the precocious youth. Just then, as we are told, the King was keeping high 
festival, and he and all his ministers and men-at-arms drank deeply at daily 
banquets; and there was h. good deal of talk, says the sagaman, **as there is 
wont to be at drink/' This talk turned one day on the many arts known to 
the King. In the course of it some of the retainers asked a man called 
Ulfur (WolO whether he thought it possible to find in the land any one who 
was the King's equal in feats of skill ; of course, they added, there can be 
nobody who would not shirk playing chess with him. Ulf said it was not un- 
likely that a person might bo found who could play that game nearly as well 
as the King. The pthers asserted that there could be no ono in the world 
able to do even that, and one of the men, Svcinn by name, added:— ** Wo 
know that you are thinking that R^gnvald jarlsson docs n't play any worse 
than the King." "I don't say that," replied Ulf, "but I do think that 
Rognvald plays well. " Sveinn then said : — ** It would be futile to put Riign- 
vald before the King in regard to any sport or skill, but the King shall 
know what disgrace you are casting upon him and his rank." ** Repeat 
my words rightly to the King, and I shall not disavow them," retorted Ulf. 
Sveinn replied: — "It will not need to report worse ones," and the company 
separated. Not long after, the King sent for Ulf, and said to him:— **We 
loarn that you declare Rognvald jarlsson to be better at chess than we. " 
Ulf said that those were not his true words, " for I have never thought 
of underrating your strength at chess, or at any other art, but often I do 
not remember what I say over my drink." After some not very pleasant 
discussion the King said:--**Two conditions I desire to lay upon you; the 
first is that Rognvald must meet me at chess; the second is that otherwise 
I must have you slain. " 6lf replied : — '* Bold is a man when his life's at 
stake; if you make it a mortal matter, then I must try to get Rognvald to 
play with you. " Ulf then goes off to ask the young champion to come to 
his re8(^ie by meeting the King over the board. The Queen, unhappy at the 
prospect of bloodshed, sends a message to ROgnvald urging him to accept 
the King's challenge. Rognvald declared that he consented— chiefly be- 
cause the Queen wished him to do so— on condition that the playing should 
take place outside the King's castle; a grove near the castle, in which 
tournaments were held, was accordingly selected and the day for the com- 
bat fixed. Rdgnvald's father, a man of frank and upright character, pre- 
dicted much evil from the encounter, but all met at the appointed hour and 
place, including many courtiers of the court, and also the Queen. Rogn- 
vald told his men to see that the horses of himself and his brothers were 
saddled as soon as the chessplay seemed to be half over. On arrival he 
found the King and Queen seated on chairs, of which there were two others. 
ROgnvald, after saluting the sovereigns, took one of the seats and awaited 
the King's pleasure. A chessboard was lying on the knees of the King, who 
began by saying:— "Is it true, Rdgnvald, that you have offered to play 
with me, and that you call yourself a better chessplayer than It" Where- 
upon KOgnvald:— "That I have not said, but they have announced to me 
that you bade me come to chess with you to-day ; although I do not 
Junow too much about the game, still I am willing to act according to 



22 CffESS IX I GEL A XD 



your wish and play, for I do not care oven if 1 am mated by you (pdtt ek 
fiii mdl af y^r), '' The Kin*,' exclaimed:— *' Your speech is ill, but not the 
less shall you now play; but where is your stake?'' Quoth Ilognvald:— - 
** I have brought no stake, for 1 have no mind to play as a champion or 
rival." Tlic King replied: — "On the chair beside you hang three rings of 
gold ; those shall I wager ; but if you have not other three rings, tlien you 
shall wager your head ; methinks, in that case, you will not spare your 
strength/' To which Rognvald: — " 1 do not take your jest in earnest, lord, 
and I will not let my head be staked, for it is not a Tiling to be sold or bartered." 
The Queen interfered to make peace, but was sternly rebuked by her spouse. 
To spare her, Uugnvald hastened to state that he would play for his 
own head, or in any other way the King might wish, " for we are all your 
men. " Then the table was set up. The King claimed the first move as 
lord and master. They began to play at the hour of breakfast (nine o'clock), 
and at noon the game was finished, and Rognvald won, though there was slight 
difference in the positions. He arose and said: — "Now have 1 gained this 
game, but only because of the King's carelessness, in that he has not chosen 
to display his real strength ; so I will not take the .stake, for I think it more 
proper that he should retain it. " After this Rognvald resumed his seat, and 
they placed the men for another game, which reached its end before three 
o'clock ; the King had to yield to the rook's mate. Rognvald arose as before, 
but there is no need to repeat his words. The King, by this time, was filled 
with wrath. They sat down for the third game, but that came to an end 
not long after three, with a mate inflicted by a pawn {oh fehk honungr pe^s- 
mat). The King, in his anger, upset the pieces, and swept them into their 
pouch. Everybody was unarmed except Vigvarliur, Rcignvald's eldest brother; 
he carried a great battle axe, and, standing behind the King, while play 
was going on, stiffly held his huge weapon at guard. Riignvald's youngest 
brothers, one twelve and the other nine years of age, were on his either hand. 
When the final game was concluded, Rognvald stood up and said:— "This is 
a case quite otherwise than might have been expected; 1 have played with the 
King, and he has combated as a champion, putting forth all the chess arts 
which he has been able to acquire, and has lost these three games, together 
with the three gold rings which he wagered; he has been miserably beaten 
in the final game, in that 1 have given him mate with a paltry pawn. I can- 
not see why I should willingly try any further exercises of skill with him, for 
it seems to me that ho does everything worse and worse, and therefore shall 
we separate; but I shall take the rings, and he can take the scorn of all for 
his folly and vehemence. " By this time the King had got the chessmen 
well into their pouch, and said in reply to Riignvald's speech: — "Not thus 
shall we part," and springing to his feet, struck with the pouch full at the 
face of Rognvald, so that the blood flowed I'rom it. At the same time he 
cried : — ** Take that with your stake, until we can cover you with the greater 
shame, which you have so well merited. " Said Rognvald to the King: — " I 
do not take into account such small matters at this time ; 1 see that this must 
be a jest of yours." Then Rognvald and his two young brothers went to 
their horses. ^^ But the oldest brother, Vigvar^ur, was nowhere visible. They 

*^ "Si^an relsa ])oir Uflit. Konungrr vildi liafa |>at fyrir rtkifl miin at dra^a frani fyrrl. 
l»etir toku at tofla at dafifinilum, en )}at var liti at hidugi, ok varl) eun litli munr, ok lilaut 
HO^Dvaldr. Ilauu at67s p& app ok incrltl : uii hefi ek hlotit tail )>etta, ok er ])etta af ongTii, 



CHESS IX THE SAGAS 23 



rode off without finding him, but soon learned that lie remained behind to 
some purpose ; for, enraged at the treatment of Rognvald, ho used his battle- 
axe to cleave the unworthy King's head. Thus this unhappy chess-match 
led to many woes. The Queen incited the emperor Carloman to avenge the 
death of her husband, but, after much lighting, the clever Rognvald was 
reconciled with the powerful monarch, married the beautiful Queen Ermenga^ 
and passed his last years in peace, encountering, as may be hoped, no more 
such stormy chess incident^ as the one here recorded. ^ 

Other Sagas. 

In the Viglundar saga, one of the fictitious sagas, or wholly invented 
talcs which came long after the close of the classic period, and are little 

nema athagalcysi konungs, )>vi at hann hofir engi taflbrog^ sia mciri frammi haft; mun ek 
ekki beimta Jietta taflfd, l>vi at m6r I)lkkir allvel komit, t)6tt hann bail. 8i»an settist B5gn- 
valdr ni^r, ok scttu t>cir annat tafl^ ok var })vi lokit fyrir uon; fdkk konungr hr6k«m4t. R5gn- 
▼aldr stod pa upp met sama hoetti ok fyrr, ok parf pat cigi optar at greina. Konungr vard 
nu barftla roi^r. 8ettu pe!r tafiit pri?)ja; var pat lokit pa nkammt var af n6ni, ok fckk kon- 
ungr pe^smat. Konungr svarfar pa taflinn, ok berr i punginn. Alllr menn vora par vopn- 
lauslr, ncma VigvarSr ; hann gckk me9 oxi mikla. Hann »i6b jafuan a baki konuugs, mcHn 
peir teflda, vi9 reldda oxina. MarkvarSr sat a aftra bond Rognraldi, en A9al\arlbr a a^ra. 
Rognvaldr stud pa upp ok uiadti : uii mun vita vi^ 6^ruvi8, cnn menn niuudu a'tia ; ck befl 
tcflt vid konung, en hann hefir teflt af kappi, ok lagt fram Oil taflbrog^, pau or hann pikkist 
kunna, ok hefir banu nu latlt pessl prju lufl ok prja gullhringa, or banu befir vi^ lagt, ok 
8VO vesalliga yflrkominn i gi>asta tafli, at hann f6kk af mer bit fdlasta peTismit. Mii kann ck 
ei pat fija a uiinu rUbiy at pruyta purfi vid h»nu fleirl iproUir, pvi at ek pikkjunut vita, at 
hann kunni allar verr, en pa uiuuu vit at pvi Bkilja, ok mun ck bafa briuga pcssa, en banu 
mun hafa spott af ollum fyrir 8ina buimRku ok kappgiml. Kouuugr bafM pi i borlt tafliti 
punginn. Hann ma;lti: ekkl ikulum vdr at pessu hkiljast. Sprcttr hann & fiptr reiSr, ok siser 
med pungiuum framan a naair R5gnvaldi, avo at bl6(^ fell um banu. Konungr moeltl : baf nu 
potta rac9 taflfdnu, par til vdr mlTtlum p^r meiri avivirMug, acm pii beiir til unnit. RSgnvaldr 
ma'lti: herra, ekki bregd ek mer avo mjuk vi9 alikt at siuni ; Ann ok, at petta mun vera 
glens y^vart. Uckk Rognvaldr pa i bruit ok tveir brot'^r bans mat) banum ok til bestaainna.** — 
Bragda^iidijua Saga, edited by Quunlaugur Por^arHon (Kaupmanuab6fn 1858), pp. 48-45. 

^ Another and earlier MS of this saga vraa edited by Gustaf Cederacbidld in bia '*Forn- 
8<)gur Bu^rlauda *' (Lund 1884), pp. 1-42, tbo text of which differs somewhat from the later 
one which we have cited. In tliu iutroductiou to his collection, Cederscbiuld treats interestingly 
of the origin of the Magus saga (pp. Ixxx-Ixxxvi). In tlie MS be ut>es, Ibo King, Jatmundur, 
who contended in the first chess eplModo with llirtlug, is here called emperor, and Hirting ia 
Introduced as Iringur, Jarl of Irelaud. The result of the three games is the same, but after 
the firat contest, when bis opponent tries to decline the priceless objects, and to terminate the 
match, the emperor says: — ''You can't be allowe4 to run away without having received 
checkmate; for now I intend to give yon a most scurrilous mate." The other, or Rogn- 
vald episode, though more concisely recorded, does not vary much from that in the yuuug* 
«r trauscript. The aaga exists in both French ('*Quatre fila d*Aimon,'* or '* Reuaud de 
Montauban*') and Dutch ('*Rcnout van Montaibscu'*), the latter from the end of the thirteenth 
century. In both, the main incident ia the cheas match between Rognvald (Uenaud) and tbo 
King. The first of tbcse productions was well known to the Knglisbman, Alexander Neck- 
ham (Neckani), and is mentioned In the chapter De iScaecis of bia book, " De uaturia re- 
rum," the date of which is about 1180. In the course of the chapter the writer exclaims: — 
"O quot ralilia animarum transmissa sunt occasione illiiis iudi, quo Reginaldus [Rdgnvald] 
Alius Eymnudi in calculo ludeua militem generosum cam illo Indentem in palatlo Karoli magni 
cum uno scaccorum interemit!*' Cederacbidld oplnea that if the author of the Icelandic ver^ 
aion learned the story outside of Frauco it wns probably in Kogland—to which, as we have 
seen in another place, not a few Icelanders of literary ability resorted in this very twelfth 
century. Gaston Paris supposes that Ncckbam knew the legend in an Anglo-Norman ren- 
dering now lost. The story of M&gus reached the North in the 13tb century, and may have 
come first to Norway, but it ia remarkable that all the M8fi containing it are the work of Ice- 
landic bands. The oldeat one datea back nearly to the year 1300. 



24 CfFESS IN ICEL A ND 



esteemed, there is a not uninteresting allusion to chess. The principal man- 
uscript of the saga (Arnamagna$an collection, 510, 4") dates from the close 
of the 15th century, and the text is probably not much older. One of the 
characters proposes to another to play [chess], which they do. But the in- 
vited player, Orn by name, gives little heed to the game because he pays 
too much to the lady of the house (the wife of the other player), and he was 
therefore about to be mated (at honum var kotnit at iiuUi). But the lady 
in question comes in, and advises him, in a metrical speech, to move a cer- 
tain piece. His opponent deprecates the interference of his wife, who counsels 
his adversary, and tells the latter that she does it only because he is younger. 
But Orn follows the advice given, and is able to make a drawn game (Om 
tefldi pat er'til var lagt og var pr^ jafntefli). Though chess is not mentioned, 
nor the name of any piece given, the expressions at mdti (towards a mate), 
at o^rum reiti (to another square), and Jafntefli (drawn game) indicate that 
the game was chess. ^ — The passage in the Hervarar Saga ok llei^reks kon- 
ungs, in which the word skaklafl occurs, in one of the two oldest MSS, is as 
follows : — "Einn dag er Gul>mundr 16k skaktatl, ok bans tafl var mj6k svd 
farit, pa spuri^i hann, ef nokkr kynni honum rati til at Icggja. I^a gekk til 
Ilervariir, ok lagtii litla stund til, aOr Gu«>umndar var Vienna.'' It is these 
sentences of whicli Dr. GuObrandur Vigfusson says that the word skdk^ in 
skdktafl^ proves nothing as to the a<j:e of chess in Iceland, since its use is 
here mythical. The pas«>;age from the original text which we have given is 
in the prose portion of the Hervarar Saga, in a fragment from one of the cod- 
ices (copied not long after 1100), called by a distinctive name: — '*Saga 
Heicircks konun^^s liins vilra, " and may be thus rendered : — *'Onc day, when 
GuOmund was playing chess, and his game was going badly, he asked if no 
one could aid hiiii with good advice. Horvaiiiur then came forward, and 
gave the matter a little attention until Gu(>mund was in better condition.'' — 
There are possibly a few passages in sagas that we have not mentioned, in 
which the writers may have had chess in their niinds when using the word 
to ft. But they must be examined when the whole theme is treated more 
thoroughly, and more intelligently, by future investigators. 2« 

" *'I»ikir inir nu ra?, at vil Mkciutini okkr «k Itfliiu : ok •vo ger?>u tcir. Kilt gkbx Orn at 
tafliuu fyrir bug puiiit cr Iiaiin ba(?)i u husfroyju avu at huiiuin var kutuit at miti. Ok i |>vi 
koiii busfreyja i ittufuua uk t>a a taflil ok kva?t lieiiua vi.subclinini; : 

l>uka niundir Jx'i )>uiidar 
l>iuui loHu binii (;jotli, 
Kar> i-iu ijaMa tro^ii, 
Tcitr at o^ruui reiti. 

BoDdi l«ii til beiinar ok kva^ : - 

Kiiu tT iii6t.>iiuiii ruaiiui 
Mciiliii i <lag milium, 
Kiunkitt Ilia uciita «-)li 
Au^baldr fra \*vr i;jal«ia. 

(>rn tefldi )iat er til var laift uk var |<& jafutvili.'* — Ihtr^aruaga HinrjctUtis^, Viglundartaga^ 
vdilod by Ou^braudr VigftinHon (KJitbcuhavu 1»60), p. 87. 

'** 8o« thu "Furualdar iiogur *' (ISStf), I., {». 523; and tbu " Irvlaudic-Kugliab DIoUouary** 
of Ou^brandur VigfiiHiion, sub voce skdkt m quoted hereafter in the pagM devoted to cboaa 
'* Among the Lvxlcographera. " 



THE STORY OF FHITHIOF 25 



3. - The Story of Frithiof. " 

There is a romantic, or non-historical, saga, the action of which is largely 
laid in a tract in Norway, which is styled Frithiofs Saga. In it there is an 
episode describing a game at "tables," of the sort known in ancient times 
as ** hnefatafl," between two of the characters. The passage has been thus 
Englished : — '* They [the sons of King Bele] sent their fosterer to Frithiof to 
bid him come help them against King Ring. Now Frithiof sat at the knave- 
play [hnefalafl] when Hilding came thither, who spoke thus: — * Our Kings 
send thee greeting, Frithiof, and would have thy help in battle against King 
Ring, who cometh against their realm with violence and wrong.* Frithiof 
answered him nought, but said to Bjorn, with whom he was playing: — *A 
bare place in thy board, foster-brother, and nowise mayst thou amend it; nay, 
for my part I shall beset thy red piece there, and wot whether it be safe.' 
Then Hilding spake again : — * King Helgi bade me say thus much, Frithiof, 
that thou shouldst go on this journey with them, or else look for ill at their 
hands when they at last come back.' *A double game, foster-brother,' said 
Bjorn; *and two ways to meet thy play.' Frithiof said: — 'Thy play is to 
fall first on the knave, yet the double game is sure to be. ' No other out-come 
of his errand had Hilding ; he went back speedily to the Kings, and told them 
Frithiofs answer. They asked Hilding what he made out of those words. He 
said: — 'Whereas he spake of the bare place he will have been thinking of the 
lack in this journey of yours ; but when he said he would beset the red piece, 
that will mean Ingibjorg, your sister; so give ye all the heed ye may to her. 
But whereas I threatened hiui with ill from you, Bjorn deemeil the game a 
dduble one; but Frithiof said that the knave must be set on first, speaking 
thereby of King Ring. '"*> 

On the incidents of this Icelandic saga, Esaias Tcgirer, the foremost of 
Swedish poets, built, in the first quarter of this century, his immortal poem of 

^ 8ee the C7*t«» Monthly (New York 1851)), III., pp. 265-268. 

^ This EogliNli verslua of tho cpUode of the frame at *' tables/' iu the original Saga of 
Frithiof, is from '* Three Northern I^vo Stories,*' translated by Krrikur Magndssou and Wil> 
liam Morris (London 1875), p. 73. For another rendering see the English version of Tegner'a 
«' Frithiofs Saga" by George Stephens (Stockholm 18S9), pp. 7-8 of the introductory matter, 
-which includes the whole saga iu English. The Icelandic text is as follows :— Sendn I)eir 
Hilding fostra til BVi^pjofM og skyldi bii^Ja hanu aS fara til li^s me9 kongunum. Fri^^pjofur 
•at tA bnefatatli, er Ilildingur kom. Ilann miclti svo : ** Kongar vorir sendu pjer kveTtJu og 
vildu hafa lil^siuni l)itt til orusta i niuti llringi kougi, er ganga vill a riki i>eirra mod ofsa og 
oJafnaSi." Fri^t)j6fur svarar houum engu og ma>lti til Bjaruar, cr hann tefldi vi^ : '* Bil er 
))arna, fustbrudir, og rauntu ei bregma t)vi, heldur mun eg tetja a^ hiuni rau^u tofluuni, og vita 
hvort henni er forbad. *' Hildiogur mcclti pa aptur : "Svo bad IJelgi kongur mlg segja l>jer, 
Frid)>Jufur, a) t>u skyldir fara i herfor liessa, eTia ))U mundir sxta afarkostum, |)& er l>eir 
kiomi aptur." Bjorn, ma^ltl t)a : " Tvikostur or ])arna, fostbru^ir, og tvo vep;u fra tA toHa. " 
Fri^pjurur sagdi : *' i>a mun ra<) ad siija fyrst ad huefanum, og muu p& verda otraudur tvikost- 
urinn. " Eugan Qekk Ilildingur annan urskurd siuna eriuda;f6r hann aptur skjott til mots 
vid kongana og sagdi peSm svor Fridpjofs. Peir spyrja Hilding, hverja p^diugu hann tx>ki 
ur ))es«um ordum. Ilildingur sagdi > " Par er hann r^cddi um bilid, Jiar muu hann a bll hygg- 
ja nm }>essa ferd med ykkur ; en })ar er hanu Ijest sftja mundi ad fogru totiunui, ))ad mun 
koma til lugibjargar systur ykkar ; gsctid hennar vel svo vist; en j^ia cr eg hjot honum afar- 
kostum af ykkur, l)ad virti Bjurn tvikosl, en irrid|)j6fur kvad, ad hnufanum mundi vcrda fyrst 
lagt; }>ad mselti hann til Hrings kongs. — Sagan ock rimoi-na om Fridpio/r hinn /raeknif 
edited by Ludvig Larssou (Kebenhavn 18i)3) pp. 5-G. 



20 cin^:ss ix ickla nd 



Frilhiofs Saga. It may be styled a love-epos, composed of lyrics, in each of 
which the metre corresponds to the sense. As the commentators of liis time 
rendered the name given to the game in the old saga by "chess," the poot 
was enabled, partly by paraphrasing tlie original account of the game, partly 
}>y availing himself of his knowledge of chess and its nomenclature, to 
construct, out of this portion of the saga, a lyric of striking interest. Thus, 
although the anonymous author of the Icelandic saga did not have clies.s in 
his mind, but quite a different game, Tegn<5r, by the sixth song or canto of 
his poem (" Frithiof plays chess "), has managed to connect, by a new link, 
the art of chess with Icelandic literature, ^i 

The story of the poem follows closely that of the saga. The hero of the 
poem, as of the saga, is Frithiof, a Norse peasant- warrior ; the heroine is In- 
geborg, a daughter and sister of kings. These two were placed, when young, 
under the care and in the house of the same foster-father, Hilding, where 
their affections soon turned to each other. King Bele, who was on terms of 
intimacy with his bold brother-in-arms, Thorsteinn, the father of Frithiof, 
did not look with displeasure upon this disposal of his daughter's hand. 
Rut, unfortunately, Rele and his friend, Thorsteinn, died, and the haughty 
sons of the King came to reign in his stead. They had no idea of seeing 
the proud blood of Odin mingle with that of a peasant, and Frithiofs suit 
was sternly and publicly rejected. The disappointed hero retires to his 
estate, full of bitter thoughts against liis sovereigns. But all at once a war 
breaks out between the sons of Bele and a neighboring monarch, King Ring 

■" Teguor first published some cantos (XIX-XXIV) of his poem in a literary journal "Iduna," 
in Its eigbih (1820) and ninth (1821) parts. This magaziuo appeared at Stockholm, and was the 
organ of thu '' Qotlilc Union'* (gotiska forbundet)— a bellcttristlc society, which, drawing 
its inspiration from tho old Scaudinariaii literature and history, and from patriotic ihemea, 
made a revolution in Swedish letters. " Frithiofs Saga'* was issued in its complete form at 
Stockholm In 18S5, and has since gone through a great number of editions. Such is itlll Its 
popularity that it is not uncommon to meet Swedes who can repeat from memory the entire 
poem. It baa been rendered into nearly all the languages of Kurope — even the modern Greek 
and the ancient Latin — and Into some of them by mauy difTorent hands. Two DaoUh-Nor- 
wegian renderings came out almost immediately — one by J. O. Miller (Copenhagen 1826), and 
tho other (Bergen 182G) by If. Fobs ; th»y wore soon followed by several others. The first 
Gorman version was by Ludolph Schley in 1886 (Upnala) ; the first English rendering was that 
of William Strong in 1833 (London); the first French one was not isnued until 1845 (Paris) 
by Mile K. du Paget ; the first Dutch one was given to tho public in 18')1 (Utrecht) by P. Li. 
F. C. von Kichstorflf, and in the same year the poem appeared in Italian (Verona), rendered 
by Alessandro Bazzoui. Tho earliest Slavonic version was the Uussian one of 1841, followed 
by a Polish one In 1856 — parts having appeared previously. Into Hungarian many portions 
of the work were translated at an early day, but the poem was issued complete only in 1867 
(Budapest). Later arc the tranHlatiuns into Finnish (1872), Bohemian (1801), and other tongucn. 
Tho best English version — so fur as it goes— is that by Longfellow, fintt printed in the '' North 
American Review *' of Boston (n« xlvi. July 1837, p. 14U), but unhappily it consists only of 

fragments, and the chess lyric is not among thorn. The poem has been frequently illustrated 

best, perhaps, by tho Swedish artist, Malmstr«'>m (Stockholm 1868), whose designn have been 
published with texts in Swedish, Danish, German and Kugllsh — the last-uamrd In Boston. 
The most recent illustrated edition is the Cerman rendering by Kmil Engelman (Stuttgart 1887), 
adorned with engravings from drawings by a group of noted (terman artists. Frithiurs Ha^a 
has been more than once dramatized, and all its most popular cantos have been repeatedly 
set to music by Scandinavian and (lerinan composers. An excellent bibliography of tho Icu> 
landic sa^a, and Its poetical paraphrase by Tegncr, was prepared by Gottfried von Leiuburf^ 
(2d ed., Fraukfurt 1872)— fairly complete down to 1871 — and was {i«sued, together with tho 
Swedish text, a German prose tranalation, very full illustrative notes, and a complete Swe- 
dish-German vocabulary ; It Is to be regretted that I^inburg's lists of editions, translationn 
and comments, have not been continued. 



77//*; STORY OF FltlTJIIOF 



21 



(for, in that day, Norway was partitioned among various sovereigns), and 
Krithiofs good sword and warlike skill are needed. The Kings consequently 
send Ililding on an embassy to tlie affronted warrior. Ililding finds him 
playing chess with Iiis trusted companion, Bjorn. The indirect, allegorical 
way in which FrithioT contrives, by addressing remarks concerning the game 
to his adversary, to answer Hilding's queries, is thus described by the poet. 
Wo translate literally, and do not attempt to preserve either rhyme or metre: — 



Frithiof plays Chess. 



Rjiirn ntul Fniliiof bntli wore Aittin^ 
At n clioasboard fair to gnzo at ; 
Kvcry other sqnaro wa» Bih'or, 
Every other one waa gold. 

Then eamo TIih1in<|^ in : " Bo scaUHl ! 
Take the fitting chair of honor, 
(^iiair thy horn till I the conihat 
Finish, foster-father goo4l ! " 

Ilihling qnoth : — '• From Rons of lW\(s 
('onie I now to thoe bosneching ; 
Full of evil are tho tidings, 
And to thee tho country looks. " 

Frithiof qnoth : — " Ko wise and wary, 
lijiln), for now the King's in danger; 
Siicrifice a Pawn ^ and save him, 
Pawns are mode for s.acrifice. " 

• 

'* Frithiof, ronse not Kings to anger, 
Sturdy grow the eaglets' pinions ; 
Though 'gitinst King their forco l>o foehlo 
Mighty is their power to thioo. " 

"So my castle, Bjorn, thou throat'nest ! 
FearleB«l3' I wait the onset ; 
Not so easy is its capture, 
Defende*! by my trusty men. " 



Ingol>org in Balder's garden 
All tho day-long sits a-wooping: 
('annot she to strife entice thoo — 
Tho woei)er fair with eyes of blue ? " 

"The Qucon, Bjorn, thou vainly huntest; — 
Dear to mo in evorj* contest 
She's tho che^ssfield's noblest flgure, 
llowo'er it go she must be savotl." 

** Frithiof, wilt thou never answer? 
Shall til J' foster-father leave theo — 
Unheard from thy tower departing 
liccanse thy doll-play will not end?" 

Frithiof then arose, and taking 
llildlng's hand in his responded : — 
*' Father, I've already answertyl, 
Thou hast hoard my soul's resolve. 

Ride and tell the sous of Bolo 
What I've said ; they Mcorne4l my friendship, 
Broken are the bonds that bound us. 
Never will I bo their man." 

" Well, follow then the path thou choosest, 
I ciunot thy anger censure, 
(rreat Odin guide all things aright!'* 
Spake old Ililding as he went. ** 



The modern Icelandic translation of Tegner's poem was first published 
at Reykjavik in 186<3 under tho title of " FriTSJ»j6fssaga,'' and was rendered 
in tho original metres. It may, with truth, bo said that the reading of this 
version afTords even greater pleasure than the perusal of the Swedish original. 
In the first place, the rendering is very exact, and the melody of the verse 
most etfectively reproduced, and, in the second place, not only the ptoper 
names and the old mythological terms, but even the incidents of the tale 
have an effect, when given in the language of the saga, which it is dilUcult 
to match in any modern tongue. The translator is the Rev. Matthias Jochums- 
son {b. November 11, 1835), the foreuiost Icelandic poet of the present gene- 
ration, who has published many volumes of original verse, while among his 



The pUy upon wordii cannot be preserved in EugHMh ; bmulr, the Swedish vocable, n\g- 
nifliH lioth jxticn and pcaaant, and Frithiof was hlm«tlf a peasant. 



33 



A fr.cr translaUon ft that by the Rev. William Lewery Blackley ^Dublin 1857), though 



H ' 



28 



CHESS ly ICELAND 



IranHlatotl works arc four of Sliakespeare's plays ("Macbeth," "Othello," 
" Hamlet" and *' Uoinco and Juliet"). We give his version of the chess- 



perbaps not the best of the many Kuglisb versions. We quote it from the American reprint 
edited by Bayard Taylor (New Vork 18C7), and we add, side by side with it, the Swedish 
text: — 



Fr'Uhiof plays Chess. 

Frithior sat with BJorn the true 
At the cIioRs-board, fair to view ; 
S<|uare8 of silver declvcd the frame, 
luterchaugcd witli 8<]uare.8 of gold. 

Iliiding entering, thus he grruted : — 
" On the upper bcucli be seated ; 
Drain the horn until my game 
I (Inish, fostttr-fathor bold. ** 

Quoth Ililding : — Hither come I sperdinu. 
For King Itele's sons entreating; 
Danger dally sounds more near, 
And the people's hope art thou." 

" Bjorn, " quoth Frithiof, "now lieware ; 
III thy King doth seem to f;tro ; 

A pawn may free him from his fear, 
So scruple not to let it go. " 

" C'ourt not, Frithiof, Kings' displeasure, 
Though with Ring they ill may measure ; 
Yet eagles' young have wings of power. 
And their force tiiy strength outvieH.*' 

" If, RJorn, thou wilt my tower beset, 
Thus easily thy wile I meot ; 

No longer canst thou gain my tower, 
Which back to place of safety bios." 

" Ingoborg, in Raider's keeping, 
Passcth all her dayi in weeping ; 
Thine aid in strife may she not claim, 
Fearful maiden, azuro-eyod." 

What wouldst thou, Bjcirn ? Assail my queen, 
Which dear from childhood's days hath been— 
The noblest piece in all the game V 
Her I'll defend, whate'er betide." 

" What ! Frithiof, wilt then not reply? 
And shall thy foster-father hie 
llnhcede.d from thy hearth away. 
Because thy game Is long to end ? " 

Then stood Frithiof up, and Ia!d 
Hllding's hand in his, aud said : 
" Already hast thou heard mo say 
What answers to their prayers I send. 

" Go, let the sons of Bele learn 
That, since my suit they dared to spurn. 
No bond between us shall be tied. 
Their serf I never shall become.*' 

" Well ! follow on thy proper path ; 
HI 6ts it me to chide thy wrath. 
All to some good may Odin guide," 
Hilding aald, and hied him home. 



Fritliiof spchir Schack. 

Bjtirn och Frithiof suto buda, 

Vid ett schackbord, skont at ^kuda, 
Silfver var hvarannan ruta, 
Och hvarannan var af guld. 

D:i steg Ililding in : '• Sitt neder, 
rpp i hogbiiuk jag dig leder, 
Tiim ditt horn, och lat mig sluta 
Spelet, fosterfader huld ! '* 

HildIng qvad : " Fran Belea soner, 
Kommer jag till dig med boner, 
Tiduingarne iiro onde, 
Och tili dig star landeU hopp." 

Frithiof qvad : *• Tag dig till vara, 
Fij«»ru, ty iiu ar kung i fara. 
Frillsas kau ban med en bonde, 
Den iir gjord att olTras opp." 

" Frithiof, rela icke kuugar, 
Slarka vaxa urneus ungar ; 
I'^ast mot King de aktas svaga, 
8tor ;lr deras raakt mot din." 

" Bj«»rn, jag sor du tornet ho tar. 
Men ditt anfall lilt j.ig motar. 
Tornot blir dig svart att taga, 
Drar sig i slu skoldborg in." 

" Ingeborg i Baldershagen, 
Sitter och fiirgrater dagen, 
Kan hon dig till strids ej locka, 
Uralorskan med ogon bB ? " 

" Drottuing, Bjorn, du fufaugt jagar, 
Var mig kiir frau barndomsdagar ; 
Hon iir spelctM biiita docka, 
Hur dct g&r, hon r&ddoa ma." 

•' Frithiof, vlll du icke svara? 
Skall din fosterfader fara 
OhOrd friin din gard, emedan 
l«;j ett dockspel viil ta slut? " — 

l):i steg Frithiof opp och lade 
llildings hand i sin och sadc : 
** Fa«Ier, jag bar svarat redan, 
Du har hort min sjals beslut. 

Rid att BelcH suuer lara 
Hvad jag sagt ; de krankt min ara, 
Inga band vid dem mig ftlsta, 
Aldrig blir jag deras man." — 

" Viil, din egen bana vandra, 
Kj k an Jag din vrede klandra ; 
Oden styre till det bftstaP' 
8ado Ililding och forsvann. 



THE STOnr OF FRITHIOF 



29 



canlo from the second edition of the " Fri01)j6^s.s.a^^^ " (Reykjavik 1884), 
pp. 39-41 ; — 

Fri^pjofur sitnr nch tafli. 



.Sat me^ traikiinin f«jrttnrl»r6?>ur 
Frifttjufiir a5 taHi hlj«5nr; 
Rernlir silfri og rAIl^agll^i 
Roitir nkiptnst bor^i A. 

Ililding t).i \ liollii ;:;en<;:nr, 
Hoiinm fiijj^nar pn'i^iiir dronfjnr. 
"Sit og t-ik vi?» fijgm fiilli, 
Fi'istri ka>r, og tafl vort Bjii. " 

" Kve?ijn bor eg Bela iii?>j;i, 
naMr FriJlijof lijjilpar biV|a, 
Nau^iflyn kn^r J»ji li?*8 a3 leitii, 
Landii^ g.jr»rvalt treystir ^dv. " 

Rraginng nia^Ui : '* lijorn, J)in gicttn, 
BuMnng er i aU'trri lia'ttn, 
Bondiiin honiim bj«>rg niii voiia, 
rxuidinn jafnan Bkotsptiun er. " 

" Egn oi, fiiatri, niiga bara, 
USnrn t>roRkaBt j«>Wn ara, 
l><)tt |)eir Uriiigi mi^nr megi. 
Meiri bra'^ur t^rii p«'T. '• 

'• Bjorn, 1 hiettn hrrtk K' setnr, 
Ilotjn valda akal eg botnr, 
Hans ]>!^ framar befnr eigi, 
ITn3k!ir inri i skjaldboi^ for. " 



" Ingibtorg i Raldiirshaga 
Beiskan gra^t-ar alia dag:», 
<tetnr Jiig oi giniit a5 morSi 
(irdtin hklt nie^ augno bid?" 

" DrottniDg, Rjorn, ])A bifar eigi, 
JJrrtSnr til fr.i ipskndegi 
I»okki' eg. hi'iii er bczt il ItorSi, 
Jijargn l>eirri vist eg in A. " 

" Skal eg jafnna^r frA K^r fara, 
Fri7)|)jofnr, pn vilt oi svara, 
L«»iknr oiiia og ekki vjeri, 
()b!niilioyr?>aii la?tnr mig. " 

K.ippiiin npp Jia 8to<5 aS ntnndn, 
Styrka Hilding i^tiir niandn : 
•• Sviirnm, tV»atnrfaMr kmri, 
Fnllum hof eg sn^radan ))i((. 

Belaaonnm sviir min tjd^n, 
Saklannan mig gylTar smdSn ; 
}^g or lans viS jofra bA<)a 
I5g Rit aldrei & I>eirr.i bekk." 

'*I>ig nkal ekki ^ar am saka, 
Prt raiint RjMftar nlS l>cr taka; 
Altadir skal ollii ni^a, *' 
Aldinn kraS, og branta gekk. 



Before (he time of Bishop Tegndr the poetical adaptability of (he slory 
of Frithiof the bold (hinn fr?ekni), and his fair Ingeborg, had been recognized, 
and not a few writers had sought to clothe it in a new dress. The earliest of 
these was the anonymous author of a versified composition in Icelandic, 
which was written down at least as early as the earlier half of the 16lh cen- 
tury, for that is the dale of the codex containing it in the great Arnamag- 
nrcan collection of Icelandic manuscripts at Copenhagen (cod. "604, c. 4'*). It 
is one of those productions called ** rimur " (rhymes) — made up of a single 
"rima'' (canto, song) or more— which have been composed in such great 
numbers, in all quarters of the island of Iceland, ever since the close of the 
classical period of Icelandic literature. These rimur are stories in verse 
— resembling somewhat in kind, if far inferior in degree, the narrative 
poems of Walter Scott. Their subjects are drawn from an infinite variety 
of sources — from the old sagas, from foreign history, from the biblical nar- 
ratives, from biographies of heroes, from legendary lore, and so on ; and 
until the present generation, they have enjoyed — the best of them at least- 
unbounded popularity. A few meij — like the late SigurOur BreiOfjorO — have 
made themselves reputations as rimur-writers, but multitudes of these com- 
positions do not pise above mediocrity. They usually comprise, as has al- 
ready been said, one or more cantos (rimur), each introduced by a so-called 
tnansongur (literally "love-song''), defined in the lexicon of GuSbrand Vig- 
fusson as " lyrical introductions to the epic rhapsodies or ballads (rimur), 



30 



CIIFSS IN ICELAND 



for ori<:^inally these wore addressed to the poet's lady love."' These ear- 
liest '' Frit>l>j6(sriinur " — whicli lack the mansongur — are in five cantos. A 
notice of the work was published by Kii^'en Kolbing, 3i -with some extracts, 
which are compared with portions of the Swedish poem, in order to prove 
the probability of Teener's acquaintance, not only with the ancient saga, 
but with this more modern metrical version. Dr. Kolbing's essay is of in- 
terest, but Jon Porkelsson, the younger, considers that the FriI^J)j6fs^iI^u^ do 
not rise, in point of literary skill, above the average of similar productions 
of an equally early date. ^^^ .More recently these old rlnTur have been prin- 
ted in full at the end of liUdvig Larsson's edition of the prose Frilifjofs 
saga, and carefully annotated. The account of the game at hnefalafi oc- 
curs in canto ii, stanzas 12-22, as follows: — 



Fylkir domU fifngan mann 
^'^i^^jo^■ li^s u?> k\'c^ja ; 
Fyrftar sogl eg a?> rmidn j>aiin 
Floygl n«)9rn ho?Ja. 

I'ni^an kTinlda pidtu mnn, 
IVytUluu bandar nkaHi, 
irvonijfaii Biln l>eir hr.ora ninnn 
Ih'rsi iio Bjiini aft tatli. 

IJiirii [)oir liersl bra^Sra or^ 
Og bd^u biinn li^inu aafiia ; 
(lat eg baim fyr vi& fahla nkorS 
Fy«a»t jm't vA gaiiiua. 

Tala&i banti nin tillHiim skil 
Fyr trau8tiim briiigii babiri, 
Lita indttii I'jorn A. bil, 
BregT'iim vift |)\i ablri. 

Fri?»l.j611 Iliblingnr lia-tti l>;i 
]ir»r?in af fylkia arfa, 
lllnm koHtum iemti I'd, 
Annad byggat aA ntarfa. 

lijoni fril eg telja tvikost banii 
Tvoiinnr fyrir iCb tolla, 
Ilinii kvu?) moiidn a9 biiotmiiiiii lagt, 
llolga vil og oi efla. 



Ekki fengn crintli menn 
Ouiiur bobhir oil t>ea8i, 
Kappiun pd fyr konga ronii 
.Mo5 kiUlog or^in l>CHMi. 

Ilttlgl RpiirM Ililding a^, 
ITvaS slik or^in ^'jfin, 
Oroiiia inA eg, kvaft garpnrinn, l>aft, 
Kf graraiir vill til ])e88 bl^^. 

I>ar or banu tala^i nin taHsins 8ki1, 
Tiillu fagra oiiia, 
]Iygg.ja. get eg, )>ar licrfli si bil 
llabia i drit'ii dcina. 

Ell or og ba^tti' af bendi pin 
Ilt'rsi vondam koati, 
Veik I)d litt ]>ad viirum sin 
Vopiiaiuoi^ar og brosti. 

]«|r>rn gut trau?ian tvikost aagt 
Tvciiuur fyi-ir a^ st^ra, 
Hinii kva^k niuiidn a% bnefaiinm lagt, 
llriiigH iiafu 08A vill sk^rA. 

Svo miittn fyr soiina viS 
SysUir l>iunar g:i>ta, 
JJytf*» <^K Ji'tla beraia uxt 
Ilitta bn^M nia^ta. » 



In the present century the history of Frithiof has been twice similarly 
treated, but subsequently to the publication of Tcgner's work. The first is 
in the " Rimur of Fri(>J)j()fi frn'kna, " comprising seven songs, composed in 
1S.'J7 by Ami Sigurt^sson, of Skutar in North Iceland, a little-known rimur- 
writer. Tliey exist, still inediled, in the manuscript collection of the Ice- 
landic Literary Society (hokmcntafolag) at Coi»cnhagen, wiih other rimur by 
the same hand. -^ Tliey are little likely to sec tlic light, since the libraries 



'• *• neitr&;;o sur vcrglelchondon {;«'sobloblo <ler romantiflcheii poosio uud prosa doa niit> 
lulalturs*' (Hrcslau 1876), pp. 207-S17, boiiig an essay " Uubur diu vurricbie Icuen boarbcUungon 
der Friapjofgaage." 

"^ '*Oin digtningen pu falaiid ] del 15. og 16. uibiindrcMb; " (Kobciiliavn 138S), pp. 148-149. 

* " .Sa'^aii ock rimortta oiii Fri^l>j«jf^ liinn frcrkni," t'dited liy Ludvig Ijarxitoii (Kubenhavn 
iao:»), pp. 101-10?. 

^ See •' .Skyrsla uin handritntafn bin* hienzka bokmynUft'dagu," !»}• .SIcjnrftur .Tonasfon 
(Kaiipinanuaburii IHiiU), I., p. Il7 (H" n* UK, rininakver). 



THE STORY OF FRITHIOF 



31 



of Iceland have, on their shelves, acciimulatetl stores of similar productions, 
which, if they have liad any publicity at all, have only obtained it by cir- 
culatinj; from hand to hand in written copies. ^ Tlie second work to which 
allusion has been made has, however, attained to the dignity of print. This 
is the '^Kimur of FriT^l))^^ fr.vkna," written in 1863 by Lui^vik Blondal, 
but only printed in 188-1 (Reykjavik). These rimnr are in ten songs, in the 
third of which is to bo found the account of llilding's mission and of the 
game ho witnessed. — Besides these productions in rimur form, the Danish 
poet, Johan Samsoe {h, 1759, d, 1796), wrote a romantic tale "Frithiof,'' pub- 
lished in the first volume of his " Efterladte digteriske Vierker '' (Kjeb- 
enhavn 1796), pp. 1-32, and subsetiucntly translated, with two other tales 
from the sagas V>y Samsoe, into Swedish — "Fritliiof, Hildur, och Halfdans 
Seiner. Trenne nordiska Sagor" (Stockholm 1814) — a production which was 
very likely known to Tegndr, but which appears to contain no mention of 

^ Thero is littlo of poetical worth in thu " Kimur af Fri9]>juil frsckna PorsteiuMvoi," ai 
it i« styled in Ami 8igur^8soii'« MS. Thu writer docs not nialee his persouages play chess, 
but holds to the hnefatafi of the saga, like his IGlh century predecessor, and In his second 
rima, verses 57-74 (pp. 85-86), thus portrays the game : — 



TeUdu brauda borfarnir 
Bjorn, FriStjofur lika, 
Ililding vauda beilsan fer 
Hversu lUtandi glOggast tcr. 

Bar upp fekirast bon uin li&, 
Birta nam af Hriogiy 
AS rlldi hiirum veita ofril^, 
Veigatir ined raugl;rti9. 

8tyrkja hara hlitur d^r, 
Hars i fara maggu ; 
Kngu srarar tjiirgu tir, 
Til BJaruar hann laaBlli skyr 

Bilinu auSa bert i staS, 
Bregma ci mnntii, viuur ! 
Vil otrau^ur — tekst mer pad- 
TGHunni rauSu setja a^. 

Hvort ad forbad honni er, 
Heist mig giruir vita. 
Sendur kor^a tir enn t^r : 
TJa skal or&in Helga t)er. 

IIHruni fara ef hikar me?*, 
H^t ])er ofurkOKtum. 
I>egja bara bragning re?) ; 
BJdrns kom rara and.svure?) : 

Tvikost lita i tafli ma, 
Tvo fr4 vegl a% leika. 
Til hnefanii ita eg mun ^a ; 
KyMr rita ni6l nam tja : 



Otrau^ari ])6 mun ]>6r 
Pykja tvikosturinn. 
Ililding bara hurt uii fer, 
Bi^a svara gagulaust er. 

For til baka, birti i sUd 
Br.^<^rum FriSpjofs ra^Su, 
IIva» orftakiS l)i5i l>aJ, 
Peir allspakan frdttu ad. 

Bins ])iSir : baugaver 
Bi& a Ifctur verda 
Mc& ykkur stri^a Hrings vi8 her, 
Hyggiun ski^a nj6tur Xhr, 

Taflan rauSa merkja ma 
Ma3ta Ingibjurgu, 
Bezt mun au^ar be^)u ga, 
Brodda hauSur ma^lti Jia. 

I>egar hneita ])uudl h6t 
I^ungu af ykkar hendi, 
Buriun skeyta, bezt svo met, 
Bjurn pa?) heita tvikost let. 

Iluefinn py^ir Ilriug eg skil, 
llvaS Fri5>l)j6fur meiuli. 
Kuat^ar \y'b siuu tya til 
Tirfiugs stri?)an heya bil. 

I>ata fiir>a frii — or tjo<i — 
Flytja i Baldurshaga, 
()i^ Htta bli?iar mcyar mcS, 
Margt l)a!r pr^Mr linnabo?). 



Serhvur Bcla suuur kva?> : 
8i8t Fri7»l)j«>fur vogar, 
Gjora vel i gri^a sla^, 
Godunum vel ci likar ]>a^. 



The Utlfl of 



now printed, is: — "Himur af Fridl>j66 fraskua, orkt 



32 



CHESS IN ICELA ND 



choss. Another Danish poet, Nicolai Bierfreund Sotoft {b. 1790 d, 1844), also 
left a composition — in dramatic form — taken from the same source. It is 
contained in his " Romanti.ske Digte '' (Kjobenhavn 1815), pp. 1-180. It is in 
blank verse and is called *' Skjan Ingeborg og Frithiof, romantisk Skuespil/' 
in five acts. The chess scone occupies a very scanty space, in the second 
act, and betrays no great familiarity with any game on the part of the au- 
thor. At the end of it, in response to Ililding's appeal for an answer, Fri- 
thiof starts up and exclaims: — '* Kast Spillet sammen ! spjend mig Bry- 
nien paa! " • 



hcflr Liiftvik Bloudal (i8»i3)," (Krykjavlk 1881). We copy the porllon of the third rima devoted 
to the gamo of hnnfatart (Slauzas 27-16, pp. 19-22) : _ 



BrieSur vcuiUi \ib am stuiid 
Vjelaru>l, er meal 1)6 skeyta ; 
llildiujf Rendu k Fri^^)j6fll fiiud, 
Fyl^d haun biJu sjor aS velta. 

Bryujuhalli bezlan gat 
Haut^alicygi llti<S iuni, 
Ilauu oTi tatli hiicfa sat, 
ITyr ]i6 eigl skcmnitau sinui. 

Hall 8VO talar llildiugur: 
•' HiuKa^ l>arfa in:vUl viu la ; 
l»jer uu valiun l>or»lulus bur 
I»cugil8arfar kvc'^ju seiula, 

Moli Ilriiigi hara li^ 

Hollant bi^ja Jjig a?* vita, 
Svo ei Blingiir tlnMul fri\ 
Kleins i i^ju ra^ur svcila. 

Hanu I'oini t>ka?>a bctir tje^, 
Hugar«ykl' or vaktl vtran^'a, 
Ojafna?>i' og ofsa inc'5 
A vill riki l)eirra gauga." 

Kappiuu flMI lili? Ii5 
Lag^i gilduni tleinaliara, 
inj«"»ru hann tvlMl vu«ikur vi^, 
Vill ei Ilildiug ituinu svara. 

Svu til lijarnar sag^i hiini 
.Svtfr?»ahlyiiur ti^narlt^gi: 
" IJil er l)arua, bro^ir niinn, 
Urt'g^a viuur iiiuutu cigi. " 

Ilol/.t olrau^ur hanu |>a kva?t 
llii(;ar niciuum var ci KkurT'ur : 
" T«illu rau^iu' eg st'l a?', 
C>^ KVu reyui' cf for^a^ ver^'ur." 

Seiidibo^iuu wag^i |'u : 

" Siu |>6 hali bver a?> g!*'la ; 

I'etta iilo^a i)ig ti nta, 

In't uiuut afar kostum 8;«'la. 

Visl I'i fj«tlga viuir hjcr 

V<3i«kuin drtng |<o aukist bagi ; 
Svo ba?» llclsl st'gja l«jor." 
iSvarar eugu kappiun fra*gi. 



Hreyalilega herkjum ^a, 
IljaliS Bjaruar ur uani akvra : 
♦•Tvo ma vega t«fla fri, 
Tvikost parua mot eg vera. " 

8ver?ia-au7)UD svarar hiuu : 
** Setja* ad huefa gaman vacri, 
Pa. oirauAau tvikostiuu 
Tel aa cfa, broJlr kieri. " 

Ilildiugs a-raiit bugur wa^ 
Ilaruiapiau Ijoiri Mldur; 
Auuau ixr ei iirKkurT* pi; 
Ai)lur sinar k•iJ^ir beldur, 

Sv^iriu niildingH souuui Hjott 
8egja oair bann ad vonum ; 
Iluiptin trylldl hugi 8kj6tt 
11 lyra lia i vaudrcBdonum. 

Spur^u uidiugs taniir Irii 
Tyrar ko^^a raaDnriin Mpaka, 
Mvcrja JiyMng pjodin mi 
Tr I>e88uiu ordum megi taka. — 

*• Lilt o;^ brjrddur lengl sjost" 
— laufa yggur svarar k^^tti. — 
'* l>ar banu rxddi um bilid bozt 
Bil a byggja' um lid haus mxtti. 

Pott a?» snaudir vnTum vjor 
Vit og lihtir FriT^ljof pr^da, 
'I'atlau rauT'a ullauitt er 
Vkkar syaiir bloiua frida. 

A^ peiui htcfndi* eg or^um 1)4 
I'm sem ga^i litt ad hirda, 
Bratt um hcfiidir bra^drum fra ; 
r.jorn pad ua^i tvikosta virda. 

M:i'tti knefiuu inerkja llring 
Meitt eem kefur hugi grauua 
l^anu au efa l>j6^iua}ring ; 
I>etla gefur raua ad sauua. 

Ykkar ro:nta syntir si/.t 
Sorgar byriuu aHti' ad kauna, 
llunuar g?r>tid vel svu vist 
Voudra fyrir brogdum manna. '* 



STRAY XOTES 



33 



4.~Slray IMes. 



The reverend Magnas OUCssoo, a posthamous son of a poor peasant, was 
bom in Ejjlf^riyarsfala in North Iceland in 1573. ' His mother, in wandering 
aboat one winter night to beg food for her child, perished with cold, and 
was fonnd, the next morning, with her liTing son lying apon her breast. He 
was adopted by the well-to-do Benedikt Hallddrsson, who had discovered 
and rescued him, and who sent him, later on, to be educated at the Cathe- 
dral school of H61ar, whence he entered the University of Copenhagen 
about 1590. He became a man of great learning, compiled what may pos- 
sibly be looked upon as the first printed Icelandic lexicon (*' Specimen lexici 
Runici,** published at Copenhagen in 1650), served for a while as rector of 
the H61ar school, and died as priest of Laufi&s, not (kr from his birth-place, 
in 1696. He was a constant correspondent, on archaeological and philological 
subjects, of the distinguished Danish antiquary, Ole (Olaus) Worm, to whom 
he dispatched in 1627 or 1628, a set of Icelandic chessmen, accompanying 
them by two stanzas in Latin, which we here copy, with the author*s notes, 
as printed in Worm*s correspondence, ^ making only some slight orthographic 
(or typographic) changes in the Icelandic vocables:— 



AD D. D. OLAUM WORMIUM 
De Skakis ad etim mis$i8. 



1. 

LatroBM ftd lites 

LadioTM bant nidee, 
CaTM claiuos leri 

Clare rir doc in Urea. 
Cora eampam dari 

Cominas m promant, 
Gelice graves rotei 

Gens discolor, ensee. 

2. 

Trasetolit in monsiri 

Thyreo plectenda Cyrce, 
Sermone, sic, formas 

SstelUtes, atro, 
Postqram Vida9 vir casius 
. Yersn oecinit terso, 
Forte qTod oonferUm 
Canam lapseriut oDam. 



Skdkms sire Skdkuuiamr in 
reteri Ungra Nonr^. idem est, 
qrod Lairo vimticut (Sobeohsr 
etiam Qerm. Latro dicitur,) item 
ad Skdka (inflniUr.) cat InUr- 
ficert, nunc abusive ntimnr, in 
Jorgio conriiio allqvo mordsol 
alterins fiimam vnlnersre. Uann 
skikar honam 1. e. MmvMMm 
dieU, Qvare mlhl LudtM non 
Seoiohim, sed MiMtki appellaii> 
das videtur. 

Y pro I niniaUolitionnllfH^n- 
lis vetus lu hoc genoro Rh.vlh 
ml, ut dtrect4r oonsonsaUwqram 
orthographic iui\)or halxnilur 
ratio. 



Talis forma Rhythmi generalissima olim fiiit in Lingva Norvo^. ut otiam 
Danica, qvam appellabant Drottqtastty qu. vtUgo rantabilo; Drtkt onim turham 
significat. Hac etiam Heroum facta docantabant. 



The peculiarity of this brief pooin in that it is an attempt to reproduce 
in Latin the so-called drdttkvcrH^ an antique Icelandic metrical form in which 
the very ancient skaldic versos, which appear in so many of the sagas, are 

** "Olai Wormii et ad sum doetomm virorum oplstol**' (llaval* 1761), pp. 9M-857. 





34 CHESS IN ICELAND 



composed — with its peculiar all iteration (the two or three emphatic sylla- 
bles of each couplet beginning with the same consonant, or with 'different 
vowels), and other characteristics. In his first note the writer commits the 
error — which, as we shall see, later and more pretentious lexicographers 
have done — of making the Icelandic shdk cognate with the German 5c7id^/ier 
(robber), and of comparing it to the Latin latro of the same meaning — a 
word entering into the name of the Latin game, Indus latrunculorum, which 
was regarded by the archeologists of an ignorant age as identical with chess. 
The reply of Worm to this letter, dated 1628, begins thus:— "Literas tuas 
una cum transmissis Scacchis probe, accepi, Vir eruditissimo, pro qvibas 
gratias ut ago debitas, ita occasionem do te vicissim bene merendi oblatam 
iri unice exoptarem. Literaturam nostram ut ct poesin elucidantia qvie com- 
municasti, exosculor ; de iis enim libruiu conscripsi, ut spero baud inutilem, 
in qvo suo merito et hsec locum inveniont, non sine tui honoriflca mentione. 
Qvod si a te Rythmum Drotqvct [Drottkvictt] antiqva nostra lingva, juxtaque 
poeseos vestra3 leges conscriptum, in hujus commendationem impetrare pos- 
sem, magno me affectum beneflcio existimarem/* These are not the only 
chessmen carved in Iceland which we hear of in connection with the cor- 
respondance of Worm ; we shall find another poet alluding, twenty years 
later, to a similar set. — Perhaps it is well to note also the acquaintance of 
the author with Vida's epical poem, "Scacheis," as evinced in the second 
stanza, showing that Iceland, in the 17th century, was not wholly destitute 
of foreign chess literature. 

It is proper to state that these verses by Magnus 6lafsson were first 
printed by Worm in his " Danica liicratura antiqvissima "' (Hafniaj 1651, 
pp. 176-T7), in connection with an Icelandic imitation of the old drbttkvajOi, 
also in two stanzas, and also by Magnus Olafsson. This latter is reproduced 
both in Runic characters and in the Latin letter. The Latin poem on the 

chess pieces is there preceded by the following lines from Worm's pen : 

*' Quo fine Latinum qvoq^ subnectere libuit paradigma generis quidem 
Dr6ttqvaitt, sed absq^ literarum intricatione ct logogrypho, ab eodem au- 
tore concinnatum, et ad me, ante annos aliqvot una cum ludi Scachici in- 
cunculis affabre in Islandia ex ossibus elaboratis, transmissum." Magnus 
Olafsson's "Runic Lexicon,'' was a dictionary of the oldest Icelandic, chiefly 
as used in Runic inscriptions, and was, for its time, a remarkable work. The 
vocabulary was in Runic letters, and the definitions in Latin characters. 

Two Witnesses. 

The last years of the 16th century, and the last years of the 17th century, 
present the testimony of two foreign witnesses— of the most intelligent and 
trustworthy character— in regard to the cultivation of chess in Iceland be- 
fore and during those periods. The first of these is the learned Norwegian 
priest— a provost or rural dean— Peder Clausson Friis (1545-1614), the earliest 
of his modern countrymen to appreciate and translate the historical work of 
Snorri Sturluson— the monumental history of the Kings of Norway. Friis 
wrote, as far back as 1580, a tractate "Om lisland," which, towards the close 
of the century, he revised and enlarged. It was somewhat altered by Olaus 
Worm, the Danish scholar, of whom we have just spoken, and incorporated 
by him with other writings of Friis, published, eighteen years after the au- 
thor's death, under the title of **Norriges oc Omliggende 0ors sandfterdige 



STRAY NOT^S 35 



Bescriffuelse '' (Kj»benhaffn 1632). The author not only knew Icelandic well, 
but was in a position to obtain the most accurate information as to the 
customs of the islanders in his time. The island, in his day, was still looked 
upon as belonging to Norway, ratlier than to Denmark. His work, as compiled 
and edited by Worm, on Norway, her colonies and islands, remained the great 
authority, until it was superseded by the topographical writings of a still 
greater man and a still better scholar, the Icelander, I^orm66ur Torfason 
— a life-long resident of Norway — better known in the learned world under 
his Latinized name of Torfaeus. Lately, the noted Norwegian philologist and 
critic, Gustav Storm, has published an admirable edition of the writings of 
Peder Claussen Friis, in which is found the treatise "Ora lisland'* in the 
exact form in which the author's final revision left it. From it we translate 
the following paragraph **0m Skag-TaflTll : '' — 

Concerning the Game of Chess, 

They [the Icelanders] have also in their country especially occupied 
themselves with the practice of the game of chess, which they are said to 
play in such a masterly and perfect way that 'they sometimes spend some 
weeks' time — playing each day — on a single game, before they can bring 
it to an end by the victory of the one or the other combatant. But of whom 
they first learned this art I have not read. ^ 



The other witness to whom we refer is the author of a book widely read in 
its day —both in English and French. It was styled "An account of Denmark, 
as it was in the year 1692,'' and was published at London in 1694. A second 
and a third issue followed within a year, but the best edition is the later 
one of 1738. The author was Robert, Viscount Molesworth (6. 1656, d. 1725), 
who, besides having been sent as an extraordinary envoy to Denmark, was a 
member both of the Irish and the English parliaments, as well as of the 
English Royal society, an intimate friend of the great Earl Shaftesbury, and 
both the friend and adviser of Queen Anne and King George the First. He was 
the author of other productions besides the " Account of Denmark," but that 
is the book on which his literary reputation chiefly rests. In the first issue 
of Molesworth's work occurs (pp. 39-40) the following brief paragraph on 

Chess in Iceland, 

Island*' and Feroe are miserable Islands in the North Ocean; Corn will 
not [will scarce— edition of 1738] grow in either of them, but they have good 

^ "Samlede skrifter af Peder CUoMaii Friia.— Udgime for den norske hiitoriike fore- 
uing af Dr Gustav Storm •' (Kristiania 1881), p. 192, the text, in the quaint orthography 
of the writer*! time, reading thus: — 

" Om Skag-Tatni." 

** De haifuer oo bea0nderligen der paa I^udett beflittet oc effuet stg paa dot Spill 
Skagetaflfll eiler Skagspill, huilcbet der siges at de kunde eaa mesterligen oe fuldkommell- 
geu lege, at de kunde nogen Ugers Tijd lege hver Dag paa et Spill, forend de kande faa 
det til Knde oc den ene kand vinde den anden offuer. Men haem de f«rst haffue faact den 
Konnt aff, hafFaer leg iobe lest,*' 

*^ lo subsequent editions (see that of 1738, p. 26), this Is corrected to I»*land^ 



36 CffESS IN ICELA ND 



Stocks of Cattle. No Trade is permitted them but with the Danes ; the Inhabi- 
tants are great Players at Chess. It were worth some curious Man's enquiry 
how such a studious and difficult Game should get thus far North-ward, and 
become so generally used. 



The historian of chess, Antonius van der Linde— to whose profound and 
long-continued labors in a field not easily tilled the world is greatly in- 
debted—reprints, from the French translation of Molesworth's book, the pas- 
sage we have here cited, and endeavors to riddle it with his sharp critical 
shots. « As those who have perused his stupendous "Geschichte des Schach- 
spiels," and his series of articles on "Skak paa Island" in the ''Dansk 
Skaktidende,'* will have had occasion to observe. Dr. v. d. Lindens knowledge 
of Iceland and of Icelandic is too limited to enable him to treat Icelandic chess 
with the extraordinary accuracy and logical judgment evinced in his investi- 
gations into other domains. He does not seem to have seen Molesworth's 
original (English) text, but the French version is satisftujtorily exact. He 
tries, first of all, to depreciate Molesworth's testimony in general, by saying 
(in allusion to the writer's use of the form "Feroe") that he evidently regards 
** Iceland and Peroe" as two islands (**die der verfasser fiir zwei inseln zu 
halten scheint I '') If Dr. v. d. Linde had looked a little more closely into 
the history of geography, he would have found that the English — and the 
French as well — have never been able to settle on a proper way of adapting 
to their own tongue the name of the island group which the Danes now call 
'*F»r0er," but of which the official Danish orthography, in Molesworth's 
time, was " Faerae'' (without the final r). The word is, of course, a corruption 
of the Icelandic "Fareyjar'' (i. e. sheep islands), and terminates with the 
Danish plural form (0=: island, 0er=islands), the singular of which, descended 
from the Icelandic, remains in the final syllable of our place-names, '* Jersey," 
"Guernsey,'' "Anglesea"— not to mention the appellations of other islands. 
Some English writers have tried to solve the difficulty by getting as near 
the Danish form as our alphabet will permit, and have written "Feroe'' 
(like Viscount Molesworth), thereby running the risk of being charged by 
some too wise critics (like Dr. v. d. Linde) with considering the group as a 
single island. Others have boldly added the English plural ending, and 
written "Faroes" (or "Feroes"), thereby running the risk of being charged 
with committing a grammatical solecism in the use of a double plural. The 
ignorance here is thus Dr. v. d. Linde's, rather than Viscount Molesworth's. 
The former next denies the truth of the latter's immediately following asser- 
tion, in regard to the good stock of cattle in Iceland, and states that the island 
has no cattle ("auf Island werden im gegentheil nur schafe und kleine pferde 
gehalten"), while by a very little research— the briefest enquiry at the Danish 
statistical bureau, for instance— he could have ascertained that on this point, 
too, Molesworth was much better informed than himself. The fact is that in 
1703— a decade after Molesworth wrote— the cattle of Iceland numbered 35,860 
head— more than one to every two inhabitants. He passes by the English 
writer's succeeding statement, namely that the Icelanders are allowed to have 
commercial dealings only with the Danes, which was then, and for a century 

^ <* Qaelienatadien car getcbiebte dot •ehachspicla ron Dr. A. r, d. Linde ** (Berlin 1881), 
pp. Sll-SlS. 



t aiirnt-irtiii r: 

IS t.'Mixn "Jcfis n 
' »:c 1. Iiiik. to* n 
» iii£ nzif E 



^~ T-it 






• « 



?£-" fill' 




net CETT* 



"•TT *• •»—™' ""^iSL? 




tzat 



}4ir3 nT-titsr 



1 
z 



1*1^ — — p 



'Jilit, TStsstdtP^ K Ksr -a n? 



•« • 





* - ** *«^ '"• 



T ««w 5ii jpi I— »■*■■ Jf^'nm 



38 CBESS IN ICE LA ND 



Taflvisur, 

I. 
Til Po7'steitis Magnussonar^ er shdldW* misti niann i sk/lk. 

Mioli eg niti og ni<rili eg & 
A9 inenn hang Stoina fUlli f ntni, 
Ilonnni hrifl glettAii gtA, 
(lefi i eiim tvo og |>inA, 
(tamln hmpi Qorinn fnl, 
Fn«kki nm r«ita peMn smA, 
Falli lianninn frupJ^nskrt, 
Fill hann ni^in \Ag og hd. 

II. 

J6ii 1(>iknr skAr skdk, 
Sk6k hann af ra^r hvern hrAk, 
Bisknpiiiii ft'«kk r6rank, 
Khidarinn og pe^nidd, 
A gomin er komiS gnngsvingl, 
(iil^i hOn okki a!b n& br^S, 
Kongnriiin nic9 forfang 
F^^kk m&m oB&i. 

III. 

FallAga Bpillir frillan skollanR olln, 
FnTiin bA, scm ])(i hefar nfi a^ snAa, 
Hpiinan Imniist liamin i slHuma skrumi, 
Hri^k 6kl6kan kn^kc'ttt t6k nr fl6ka. 
Riddarinn staddnr, reiddnr, loiddnr, hneddnr 
Rf»i?tur ve^nr me'b rtgoft a^ pc?"!, 
Hiskiips liiiflkinn blJMkrar nfskntn hfinka, 
ViA bokkinn gckk, svo brokkinn Jiekkir okki. 

The following literal Enf^lish prose translations, with their brief com- 
ment, are the work of an Icelandic hand, *^ and reproduce with all possible 
clearness the meaninj; of the originals: — 

Chess Lays. 

I. 
To Porsteinn Magnimson,,^ when the poet lost a piece at chess. 

My malediction I utter — May Steini's men fall in heaps I May my fear- 
ful incantations bewitch him so that peril shall beset two or three of his pieces 

^ Both the rendering of the staDias and the comment have been obligingly made in 
Knglish by iny friend, Mr. Sigftis BIfindal, whoRe great familiarity with his own and other 
rouderu literatures is well known. 

^ It is possible that the adversary at rhcss, to whom these lines are addressed, is that 
ftorsteinn Magniisson (d. 165G), chief official (B]^flluma7>ur) of Skaptafellss^^sla, the county next 
to that in which the poet dwelt, who was the author of a description of the eruption of the 
volcano Katia, which took place in 16S5, and of other works still in IIS. Or was he the 
Porsteion Magniisson, who, in 1709, wrote the '• Kimur af Hrolfl Qautrekssyni ** (preserved 
among the Arna-Magnjean treasures) ? But the Iatti>.r*s home was far fk'om that of Dean Stef&n. 
Nothing is known, or surmised, of the poet's other opponent at chess, alladed to as " J6n " 
In the saeond piece. 



STRAY NOTES 39 



at once I May the Old One * lose her life I May the wee pawns grow fewer and 
fewer on the squares, and may he be mated both with the low and high mates! 

II. 

John is the better man at chess ; he has wrested from me each rook ; 
the quiet of my bishop, ray knight and my pawns is ruthlessly broken; the 
Old One is moving about aimlessly, not seeing her prey when within reach ; 
my king is overmastered and completely checkmated. 

III. 

She is spoiling all beautifully, that damned jade, your queen, whom you 
are now moving ; she steals away from her house, clever in her coarse boast- 
fulness, neatly picking the stupid rook from the throng. The knight, on 
hand, kept ready for combat, well guided, falls afeard despite his own 
wrath, and dares only attack sullenly a puny pawn, while the cowardly rook, 
fearful of the bishop's menace, keeps to his border line and thus evades the 
stratagems of the enemy. 



Comment. 

The text of the three stanzas is, in some places, very difficult of com- 
prehension, and possibly corrupted. The following notes may perhaps be of 
some use to the student : — 

I. 

nuxli eg urn og mceli eg d. — Here two constructions are confounded : 
)iioHa um and leggja d^ the meaning of both these phrases being *'to pro- 
nounce and impose a magic spell;" the use of nnxlcu d can only thus be 
accounted for, or defended. This sort of metaphorical confusion occurs 
sometimes in Icelandic, though hardly as frequently as in the classical liter- 
atures. 

falli i strd^ literally **fall in the straw;" compare strd-drepa^ "kill a 
great number." 

grd "gray, " but used here in the same sense as in grdtt gaman^ "dan- 
gerous," "dreadful." A kindred use is to be seen in Valgar^ enn grd, 
"the perfidious" (in the Njala), and in the compound grdlyndur, "malicious." 

gefi i einUy "give [to danger] at one and the same time." This is the 
only rational interpretation, as two or three men cannot be given up [that 
is, by capture, to the adversary] at one and the same move, but they can be 
simultaneously endangered or menaced. 

frce^ashrd is simply "song," but here in the sense of "incantation." 

vidtin Idg og hd alludes to the singular Icelandic custom, now obsolete, 
of arranging the men, or closing a game, in such a way that there might be 
a sequence of mates — the more numerous the better. The multitudinously 
mated player was hindered meanwhile from moving by the circumstance 
that every succeeding move of his adversary was an additional checkmate. 
The first three mates eflfected, uninterruptedly,' in this manner were known 
as the "low checkmates", lag 7ndi\ if more followed th«y were styled the 
"high checkmates," hd mdL See the essay on chess by Olafur Davil^sson 

^ By the title of the "Old One" the poet alludea to the cheas-qaeen. Thla epithet, in 
medieval cheM, wm sometimea applied to the bishop. 



'32:5i3? ZI D^'ZZ.^TD 



n lit, • i::»,tr ^.-: 





"i^'^f;**?' r v«ujr-^ I** jt rgnr. tii«£ 'tis: x 

^ r-nrtn ♦^•i^ t n .iii^7 "liac X ji -snpiii^stt ji -31** 

"■r,-?;! tA*% ^rtf — ta.^ii "iitiT* h#t to. xn3*ri«iiia4ti» :a!:n«iixi:^ii]i. '17 "^e >i 





M^«^ /^ '%iia:^ in. I %4iip<»:t that SteiiJi OialMOO vaated to saj ^^Mtim^ 
'-^At^^M^ if*^' h^l ** tft;^ WAA it£^^mtkih\e 00 *««>aiii of th** aHmrasioflu. 
-mht^'M ^jttAft^^-A * wrfT'i b^inniftj? with ^, he sab«titat«»i A^^wt in tb^sesae 
o( Ut^ f/ift^r v^ffJth>,. So^h aftwATWUiUble tabctitatioos arc especiallj cof&- 
r/»//f» »n t^#« r\u»nr, 

p/M tfifjjii ber« w»^n *'th* pfeM or tbrooging of the ehessmeii.^ 

iMhupn h/i*hinn, \%«ift th#!r *♦ daoger arising from the hishop^*^ not the 
**bwh//p'«i (i»^n%p.tr AoalogiiM are naineroae in the poetry of the time. 

ninkum hhnh/i., mmi probably Uie rook in meant, as the word hrdkor is 
ofUin UM^ in a ba4 »#mse, Ukehwtki, and indicates sometimes a prond, some- 
iUitm a r./;rf fipt pmmn, ihfj iaitiErr especially in the eompoand kicenna-hr6kur^ 

ni^^ hnhfUnn ran only ni<?an tliat the rook kept himself close to the 
h*if*Ur of th« f'Mti%n Uffkri\ — hehhr=:^rOruL 

hrfhhinn p^kkir ckki, that is **does not know the dodge, artifice, trick," 
•»ovs/l«s lh<i strstaKorn or atta<;k of the biiihop.*'» 

Of! hminmi of lt« r^mArksblo imc of identical vocal sounds— carried as it 
\n (o an nxtrnmff-ths third pl(9ce is often committed to memory by young 

*" 't'Utt llilrl Iff tlifi* liUMf, M w« h»r« lUUd, bfts other eUla*inU to iU aatborabip. 
OttM MA AllHbMlM II »• (Iti^ttiutidur H§ri]f6r§§ua (Uft'i-UOft), a prolific rimur- writer; and 
Mtwr** li A ilorf K'lilMit AMrlhoi It to Uft^ubolAur llrynJ/ilfMdiSUir, the anfortanate daogbter 
Iff lltH iVMll-liMifWH «n4 orMdllo Hr/iij^Mfur Svolutaon, blibop of Skilbolt. An aliiuion to tbia 
UIh In MiAftn h/ Mr. nlAfur P*vl^iMlH, lu lb« srll«lo wblcb wo print lator on. 



STRAY NOTES 41 



Icelanders as an exercise in phonology, or as a curiosity of composition. To 
understand its extraordinary structure it is necessary to examine each line 
separately. Thus the first line is marked by a constant repetition of the 
double liquids U (a combination having the pronunciation in Icelandic o(dl); 
they form the medial consonants of each word. In the second line, the empha- 
sis falls persistently on the long vowel u (with the pronunciation of the En- 
glish 00 in tool), which occurs Ave times. In line three, the middle consonant 
of all the vocables but one is />/, preceded and followed by vowels. The 
fourth line presents the syllable o7i — all long — in Ave recurrences. Line five 
is that producing the most notable sonant effect, with five instances of me- 
dial dd. Line six, in each of its five words, has the dental ch (the English 
th in this). The seventh and eighth lines, the former with its recurrence of 
medial sk, and the latter with its harsh double consonants kk, are nearly as 
effective to the car as the fifth. The sound of it all, when well read, is 
strikingly strange— being a kind of rattling jingle. Neither Homer, nor any 
other classic author, has produced anything quite like these cadences, while 
the only resemblances to them in English are found perhaps in "The Bells*' 
of Poo. But alliterative oddities, somewhat similar, are not infrequent in 
the exuberant poesy of Iceland. There is a long lay called " Hattalykill 
rimna*' by a 16th century bard, Hallur Magniisson, in which the metres 
employed by the rimur-poets are enumerated, among them being one enti- 
tled **dyri hattur," of which the author gives the following example^*: — 

iStuttur, steyttar, tlattur, lleyttr 
Fljott or breyttur, ekjott h6r treyttr 
Piiltiir skreyttur, hAttar hreyttr 
Hu)tti iieittur, mietti ruittr. 

There is also a jingle by a modern rhynister, Olafur Gunnlaugsson Briem, 
portraying a ride on a stumbling pony: — 

Jeg hluut ad stautaat blaata braut, 
Bykkjan skrykkjdtt uokkaS gekk ; 
HilD liaut, hnn hnaut; jeg braat i laut, 
Og hnykk met rykk A skrokkian fjekk. 

Of real nonsense-verses there are no end— such as the stanzas of the priest, 
Ogmundur SigurOsson, known as the "Syni rimnaskaldskapar," satirizing the 
extravagancies of the rim or- writers, of which we cite only the first three^2:__ 

Kjalare liet, jeg klunkan* blankara diuikimi 
Arka tir kjarkare orSa boll 
Ambara vaiubani fram & voll. 

Ulampara staiupara blami>ara trampara staiupi 
Li^riogs riSrinua Ifgg eg I'lt 4r 
L«iN)lf8 hlei?61fs hatldadar br^r. 

Mansougs foogin glyiujara gon;^iii gagara jaga, 
Ut am |>ruugin drusUira draga 
Drakoua siniugin laga slaga. 

As to the metre— Strictly so-called— of the little lyric in question there seems 
to be no term exactly defining it, but possibly one might speak of it as a sort 

*• "Om digtningon p& Inland." p. 365. 
^2 ♦' Snot " (Reykjavik 1865), pp. 378-79. 



42 CHKSSi rN JCKLAND 



of '*dr6ttkvin9a hrynjandi — Iho precipitating, dropping, or running sort, of 
dr<3ttkv:etia hattr'', alluded to by Eirikur Magniisson (of Cambridge) in the 
interesting introduction to his rendering of the mediaival religious poern, 
'^Lilja," (London 1870). ^ 

The following feeble attempt at a quasi-metrical paraphrase will pos- 
sibly give the English reader an idea, though a faint one, of those Icelandic 
verses. No effort has been made to adhere, with any exactitude, to the laws 
which govei'n the Icelandic alliterative system. The reproduction in another 
tongue of the complicated structure of Icelandic poetry — its hidden imagery 
and symbolic verbal paraphrases {kenningar), its combinations of rhyme and 
alliteration, its assonances and resonances of every sort, its great variety of 
metres — is impossible unless some of its striking features be omitted. Yet, 
with all its complex features, Icelandic poetry can hardly be called — at least 
in the most modern examples — artilicial. Alliteration, so difficult in the 
other Germanic languages, which are now spoken, has become natural to 
the Icelandic ; and in no land is improvisation so common, or in appearence 
so facile — not even in Italy, in which, as a foreigner expressed it, there is 
no need of "an art of writing poetry," but only of *'an art of not writing 
poetry." But here are the versions which do such scant Justice to their 



originals : 



I. 

I iidjnre Uiee, Tell fate, 

That thou full foul of Stoiiiu ! 
That thou try all thy treachery 

To trip up his troops ! 
That hid queen thou make qnail, 

And his pawns quit thejr squares, 
Till his kin^ bu well-muzzled 

liy a murderous mate! 

II. 

From the choss-tield John chases 

My cham]tious, the rooks ; 
My knights and my bishops are biidgorcd ; 

My pawns are battered and bound; 
My Old Woman has wandered astray — 

Witless and wild are her ways — 
And, majestic monarch no more — 

A mate has mnrdcred her spjuse. 

III. 

Your Queen's a doubly damnrd JHde ; 

She's dished my dantard mitreil dolt, 
And stealthy, sternly stalkini;^, striding 

To stem the 8U>riny stir and stress, 
She's nuulo my nobby knight afeared 

To nab a nimble ninny pawn. 
And kept ray wretched rook a-rccliug 

Kolling along the regal rank. 



Stefan Olafsson, like Magniis Olafsson, of whom we have only Just been 
treating, was a correspondent of the erudite Olaus Worm. In the lattcr's 
published correspondance, already cited, there is a letter from the Icelandic 

'•^ "Lilja" (The Lily), edited and translated by EIrikar Magntlaaon, p. xxxiv. 



STRAY NOTES 43 



poet dated from his parish, Kyrkjuba?r, September 15, 1648, in which the 
closing linos mention the transmission of a snuff-box carved out of a whale's 
tooth, and state that the young artisan who wrought it also made pretty 
chessmen of the same material, and at a moderate price: — "His adjungo 
pyxidem, a quodam juvene Island© ex dente bahjona^ formatam, qua nico- 
tianam pulverizatam sternutamentis evocandis osservari voluit. Hicjuvenis 
pleraque artificiosa, qua3 oculis usurpat, imitatur, ipse sibi magister; in 
primis vero latrunculos scacchidis affabro format et mediocri pretio vendit.'* 
Thus we have accounts, by two contemporary parish priests of Iceland, of the 
manufacture by natives of sets of chessmen — two centuries and a half ago — 
which does not look as if the Icelanders had so little fondness for the game as 
Dr. Van der Linde would have us believe. 

Among the Lexicogrraphers. 

It is only by turning over the many volumes devoted to the elucidation of 
the extensive vocabulary of the Icelandic tongue, in all its periods of devel- 
opment, that we shall be able to acquire a definite idea of the words and 
phrases connected with the terminology of chess. In the course of our re- 
searches we shall doubtless come across some interesting facts and some amus- 
ing fallacies, and we shall especially learn how impossible it is to make dic- 
tionaries witliout a combination of philology and technology — without the 
assistance in evory art and science, in every branch of huma^n action, of a 
technical specialist, familiar with the exact significations and shades of mean- 
ing of all the terms used in the field in which he labors. The study of 
philology, and in particular of its department of etymology, shows how dif- 
ficult is the task of delving truth out of the deep obscurity which envelopes 
the early history oChuman speech, and teaches us how long and persistent is 
the life of an error, however often and forcibly it may be refuted. We have 
already observed that the studious priest, Magnus Olafsson, working in his 
distant and lonely Icelandic parish, produced, in his ** Specimen Lexici Ru- 
nici,*' the first attempt at any sort of an Icelandic dictionary which got itself 
printed, and we have learned what he knew about tlie philology of chess. He 
was evidently an admirer and practitioner of the game, but from its scope he 
could not well introduce any of its terms into his Runic glossary; yet we have 
been able to note, through another product of his pen, that he regarded the 
name of tlie game (skdk) as akin to the German schacher^ signifying **robbep" 
— in the making of which unlucky guess he does not stand alone, as we shall 
find when we come to examine the work of the latest Icelandic lexicographers. 

But the earliest Icelandic dictionary of a more general character was that 
of GuOmundur Andresson (Gudmundus Andrea3. d, 1654), wliose "Lexicon 
Islandicum'' appeared at Copenhagen in 1683— of course with notable omis- 
sions and with some errors, especially of arrangement. He interprets the 
word skdk^ by the Latin "ludus latrunculorum," and derives it from a Hebrew 
verb— which he quotes — signifying "commovere, ludere etc.'' Hebrew, it 
will be remembered, was the favorite tongue of etymologists (and the tower 
of Babel their great castle, or storehouse, of primitive sources) in the time 
when that famous chess-writer. Sir William Jones, had not yet introduced 
Sanskrit to the erudite world of Europe. The compiler of the "Lexicon Islan- 
dicum " proceeds to explain one of the technical meanings of skdk (in its 
sense of check) as "ejusdem ludi in regem irruptio, unde at skdka, id est 



44 CHESS ly ICELA ND 



insultare regulo, duci latronum, vulgo pro scommate^'^ the final word being 
intended for skdkundt (little used in Icelandic, the regular form being skdk og 
mdt), or for the Danish skakmat, Mdt he defines: — "Nex, mors: sic vocant 
in ludo latrunculorum extremura reguli interitum, ceu caedem ejus, cum fe me- 
dio oUitur,*' and hints that he does not know its origin unless it be from 
another Hebrew vocable, the meaning of which is ** death'' {mors). Of the 
chessmen, he treats only hrohur, "longurio, latro, latrunculorum satelles, 
elephantes" — the last word evincing some little reading in chess history, and 
pec^, "pcdites in ludo latrunculorum,'' saying that it also means **boy," quo- 
ting a diminutive, pechlingur, icat?— this final word, for etymology's sake 
perhaps. Pechliugur^ we may remark, is not a common form. He has reitur^ 
*' locus quadrangulus in ludu latrunculorum." Ttffl he dwells on at some 
length, explaining it as *Mudus talis ale^ vol latrunculis structus: generaH- 
ter enim luce vox ista omnia significat: qvim et ipsa simulacra, qvis ludi- 
tur" — about as good and as comprehensive a definition as can be found in 
far later works. It is followed by tafia, "orbiculi aleie" and iaflltor^, " fri- 
tellus," whence, he says, the general verb tefla, ** talis, alea vel latrunculis lu- 
dero"; and then he presents us with another verb not found, wo believe, 
elsewliero, at putiga tafli^y **colligere ct claudere simulacra lusoria" — the 
phrase being, he tells us, an .''adagium pro jactura." This word for **em- 
pouch," or replacing men, after a gamo, in their pouch, is significant, as 
we may understand, when we hear, in the sagas, of the noun pungur. Fi- 
nally the author cites taflnm^r niikiU, *'vocatur qvi gnarus est ludere ita." 
These items about the Eastern game arc few, but how many more relating to 
chess are to be found in any dictionary, issued anywhere, before the end of 
the 17th century, and particularly in one of not more than 269 not very large 
quarto pages ? Ilnefatafl, occurring so frequently in later works, is not given 
in any of its various orthographical forms. 

Much larger and much more pretentious is the "Lexicon Scandicum" of 
the Swede, Olaus Verelius, which saw the light eight years later (1691) at 
Upsala. But it yields comparatively less of matter having reference to chess. 
The definitions are in both Latin and Swedish — which latter we cite in paren- 
theses. There is first skdhtnfl as the name of the game (with a citation of 
the Olafs saga helga), "ludus latrunculorum" (skakspel), followed by the 
verb shacha [sic], "stratagematibus in ludo isto uti" (skaka), the remainder 
of the rubric, relating by error to quite another verb, skakka. Under tafl 
(p. 252) and most of its derivatives, the explanatory words are generally 
chess terms, as tafl, "latrunculi" (skaktafior), taflhor^, iaflbrdg^, "viles et 
stratagemata in lusu latrunculorum" (list och konst att spela skack i brade), 
taflspeki, taflfe. There are several references to old authors, especially to 
what is called the **Orms Snorrasons Book," an ancient codex which con- 
tained a member of "SuSurlanda sogur" like the Magus saga." At the end 
of the taflfe rubric, the author, singularly enough, puts the word mdt (written 

" Thii important MS, one of the many Icelandic book-rarities which reached Sweden 
in the 17th centary through the Icelander, Jon Rugrnvin, was aubscqaently lost because lev- 
eral o< 'he Swedish scholars of that time, men like Verelius, the elder Kudbeck, l/occenina 
and others ~ or their heirs — were unable to make up their minds to render C»sar*f thin^ 
unto Civsar by returning the book-treasures which they had borrowed from public collectloos. 
See that most interesting and valuable publication, " Fornnordlsk-Islftndsk litteratur I 8t«- 
rlge, I. " (Stockholm 1897) by Vilhelm G5del, of whieh, unfortunately for the learned world, 
the eecond part has not yet appeared. 



STRAY NOTES 45 



ma«), and gives the compounds, rogsmatt (t. e. hrdksmdt), pechnutt, fretsiertu- 
mdt^ with some passages, and derives the term from ** Ital. malto,'" Removed, 
in the printer** make-up, from the compounds of mdty and probably ap- 
plying to the last of them, is the definition **stolidus," and the quotation 
hrakligastur i taflinu. It is in Verelius that the term frctstevUnudl^ of which 
we shall hoar too frequently hereafter, is first noted. Besides the above cita- 
tion, he has a separate rubric for it (p. 81), defining it: — **Kst terminus et lo- 
cutio ludentium latrunculis,'' (Kallas, nar den bonden som star mitt mot [sic] 
kongen i skaktallet, kommcr honom sa nar, at han skakar, ellor stanger 
honom, och fljs for nasan pa honum) — followed by a citation from the Mdgus 
saga referring to the third of the mates given by Hirtungur to the King. He 
gives the derivation of the first member of the word from the infinitive frcta. 
His explanation in Swedish is the most detailed, as well as the oldest in the 
dictionaries, and amounts to "a mate by the adverse king's own pawn.'' Of 
the chess figures he has only (p. 197) pe^ma^ur^ "pumilio,*" and pe^, "latrun- 
culus lusorius,*' adding p6'o^>/i^//, which he interprets as '*exprobatio impe- 
riti.-e in collocandis et promovendis latrunculis."' Ilrokur is absent from its 
alphabetical place, but on page 82 there is a reference to another vocabulary 
"in voce Rocco, turricula in latrunculis'' — there being perhaps an incom- 
prehensible omission of some kind. The work of Verelius is a solidly-print- 
ed folio of more than 300 pages, and, though the vocabulary displays a lack 
of care and orderly arrangement, the compilation is a credit to the scholarship 
of that day— but it is most probably, to a considerable extent, the work of Ice- 
landers then resident in Sweden.^ 

^ Following the story of Old-Northern philology, from its beginning down to our own 
day, it if iraposslble not to feel astonishraent at the number of learned labourern which a com- 
manlty so small as tho population of Iceland, has produced. As in the ancient days, when the 
sagamau recounted his tales and the skald recited his lays, nearly all the literary life of the 
North was hers— while the other greater and richer lands of Scandinavia were well nigh bar- 
ren — BO, in modern times, she has been the chief Interpreter of her own creations, which 
embody the history, the mythology, the laws of the early Gothic world. It is true that the 
island commonwealth possessed — to begin with — a splendid heritage. All the fore of the 
primeval age^ was hers. Her sons still spoke the language of those days in which there 
were giants ; to them the larger utterances of the gods were still household voices ; even the 
whispers which startled nature, at the dawn of our civilisation, they could yet repeat. The 
key of the treasures concealed by the mysterious runes— powerful as the seal of Salomon 
against the endeavors of other hands — was likewise in their possession. All the deities of 
the Odinio theology found their flnal refuge on Iceland's shores. Only among her Icy moun- 
tains lingered, at last, the faint echoes of the songs of the heroes who battled, and battling, 
chanted, in the twilight of our race. On every Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday, and 
Friday, the morning breeses brought to her sons — and are bringing them yet — messages from 
the halls of Vslhalla — messages which would be meaningless, even If they were not deaf to 
them, In the ears of the degenerate children of the Goth and the Saxon. The sturdy repub- 
lic which the oiTspring of kings and vikings had built up amid the snow of glaciers and the 
fire of volcanoes, continued to be governed by the archaio codes established by the Moses and 
Scions of the old Teutonio times. To these insular Northmen, too, were alone known the 
stories of the years when their ships sailed over the Northern waters of the Atlantic to an- 
other world in the west — centuries before the keel of the Italian Columbus ploughed a way 
through Its Southern waters. The empires of the South could see the setting sun in all its 
glory, but only Iceland knew of the lands of the Hesperides beyond, or could guess what 
that sunset glory foretold. They felt, too, the burden of the past, and the honours and du- 
ties of long descent, for, in tradition at first, in inscribed tables afterwards, they oould trace 
back from son to sire, from sire to grandsire, and from grandslre to the remotest progenitor, 
the story of each household. These genealogies went back far beyond the Iceland-ward 
wanderings of their people, while the narratives of the wanderings themselves had been 
transmitted with the detail of a diarist. The families that migrated in the 5th and 6th een- 



46 CHESS IN ICELA ND 



A long interval separates Olaus Verelius Ironi the scholarly Icelander, 
Bjorn Halld6rsson, whose "Lexicon Islandico Latino-Danicorura/' edited by 
Rasmus Kristian Rask, was published at Copenhagen in 1814. Feeble as the 
work is, when compared with those which have superseded it, it was, in its 
day, a great boon to students of the ancient Northern literature— to the cul- 
tivation of which it gave a marked impulse. Rask was assisted, in his edi- 
torship, by several Icelanders then studying in Copenhagen; Danish defini- 
tions wore added to the Latin ones of Bjorn IIalld6rsson, and are here, as 
usual, cited fn parentheses, while Icelandic terms are in Italics. The name 
of the game, shd/i^ is explained as "ludus latrunculorum'' (the better Latin- 

tarlea from the ■outborn borders of tbo NorUi Sea, to tbe coast of Kent, like tboie tbat in 
the 17th century, croued the broader seas that separated Old Eai^Iand from New Kngland, 
took little or no pains to hand down to poRterity the annals of their progress; but tbe Ice- 
landers, whenever they chose, could walk a^ain in the recorded footsteps of their fathers, 
who, in the 9th and 10th centuries had left the fjords of Norway and the islands of Scotland, 
to take possession of the green valleys that open to the ocean along the shores of .their far- 
northern home. And as each of those valleys began to make its history, every Incident and 
accident, every gest and scene, was remembered and transmitted and described again and 
again to the descendants of the settlers unto the latest generation. But all this was not 
true of the home-land merely. Icelandic bards and story-tellers, champions and ramblers, 
brought back from foreign courts and camps accounts of the lifo of the outer world — tbe 
doings of kings and warriors, of courtiers and prelates, of soldiers and peasants — and told 
them afresh to their children and their childrcu*s children. Then it happened, in the coarse 
of time, as was natural, that Iceland not only kept the old tongue, but learned to wield tbe 
new pen as well — the new pen that Christianity brought with it into the North. In the 
houses of her chiefs, in the cabins of her yeomen, in the cloisters of her priests, hundreds 
of scribes, through many lifetimes, wrote down the sound and the sense of the words that 
were vanishing, and the tales of the deeds that were fadingi But for their zeal — writing 
mostly under the pale sun and during the brief sunshine of winter — the most powerful peo- 
ples of the present worlds would long ago have lost, past recall, the knowledge of what 
their far-away forefathers thought and wrought; of how they, lived and laboured; of whom 
they prayed to, and of what they fought for. Thus each great man's house, in the lapse of 
years — for there were seekers after rarities in those d«y<, too — became a library rich in 
lettered wealth elsewhere unattainable — In the varied learning of the North-Teutonic bard 
and pilgrim and chronicler and rhymer and romancer. There could be read such legends 
of Germanic heroes as wore not tu be found in other (Germanic lands ; such narratives of 
the Scandinavian kings as no other Scandinavian region possessed; MUch lives of English 
saints and Scottish island Jarls as Britain knew nut of. But in the end the lore-loving little 
land was fated to lose much of this well-earned wealth and glory. The manuscripts on vel- 
lam and paper — so many that the number of them still extant seems incredible — were carried 
away— as Rome despoiled Greece of her marbles, as Napoleon despoiled Italy of her eau> 
vasses— to enrich and make famous tho libraries of foreign lauds, not u few of them perish- 
ing in transit by accidents of fire and flood. But it turned out that to the foreign despoil 
ers the manuscripts were dumb. Their words were voiceless except to those who wrote 
them. They wore as unintelligible as were the hieroglyphs carved on tho obelisks of Kgypt 
to the Romans who pulled them down on the banks of thu Nile to Hot them up again un 
the banks of the Tiber. Thus the children of Iceland had again to rescue from oblivion tbe 
records of our anct'stral wisdom. They had to interpret to the duller generations of the old 
family the words their ancestors had formerly committed to stone and parchment, to rccon- 
struct the monuments and muniments, of which their new owners proved to be unworthy keep* 
ers. It is to Icelanders that we owe the first grammars of the primitive speech, published 
at Copenhagen and Oxford. It is they who have been the compilers of dictionaries, and the 
commentators of tho classic writings. But even before the outflow of manuscripts had fairly 
begun, the renaissance of Icelandic pliilology had already dawned — in the IGth century and in 
Iceland itself. The leading figure of the new period was Arngrimur the learned— as he waa 
styled, both at home and abroad — Arugrinutr Junsnon (.Tonaf*) Vidalin — the ancestor of a vlg- 
oroas and erudite raco — whose many works were madn public partly by tho Icelandic, 
partly by the foreign press. In the first continental Nchool of OM-Northorn lingulstie re- 
search — which flourished in Sweden during the 17th century — the names which accompany the 



STB A y \orEs r: 



ism, "ludus scaccorum," has not, we see, even yet reached the Ic*lan-lic 
philologists), and is succeeded by the c«:»mfK)und5, *A'"fc*vr#. fk^k^^e^^n »the 
plural only), 'Matrunculi," (brikker i skaksj.il/: and by the verb. «t-i>T, 
under which several phrases are cited : *X-"'i- ^}r, with a figurative L:*eanin^, 
**tua res agitur" (et overmods udtryk : skal betyde: nu or iu i knibt*. ell^r *>.-: 
nu er min tilstand bedre en dim— with no attempt at an elucidation of the 
technical signification; sk/lka i hroksr<jldi\ "su^^erbire patrocinio {•c«tentic»ri>" 
(vise sig overmodig under en mxegtiiLrfres be>k\-ttel>*?' — a phra.^? which we 
shall comment upon later; and at riOf'i sh/k. -franjzere mandraiij" .l«efn 
kongon for skak i skakspih — this last given as a real technical phrase, -"to 

tStlef of the learced folioa were tbe ii&tiiea of tbe trfcolArs ^f L'{<«alA afi4 St*ckk«la. b«t tbt 
labour botvreen the eovera wa« to a larfe extent that of the liae of leetaa'Sis ** uaatlasc-rs.*^ 
aa they were atyled, which fruoi Juu Ragman wa« ca-rried on ikroa^ tis-. brotkert, G^'^- 
mandur and Helgi Olafs^ou. They had been f jmniuued to S«redt;n bj the CoUe^ of A&sa^ai- 
tiee (Antlquiteta-l'olleglatn) first in the hope of obtaining mere apo^il ir-om leelani. a^d tee- 
ondly to enable the learned editor* to read the Teilaou thej ba'i alreaij faTBer*4. I: U as 
amasing, as it is sad, to read of the rlralrr between Denmark and ^w<r<dea in exp*#;t^nf tbo 
strange mines that had been opened in the dislai.t islet, to which so httle We^i La4 b««a 
paid iu the preceding centuries. Secret agenu— Icelanders— were sent h»nM by Sweien, a&d 
the harvest gathered was landed on her coast, while the boat and agent wect on to ObfM-a- 
hagen. It was a singular commerce. What we hare said of tlie works of t^ SwrdUh eeWoi 
is equally true of those of the Danish, vihieh. in thoso days, was al«o the Norwegian. It Is easy 
to note, for instance, how many of t)le Worm's pnblieatioas in the 17Ui ccntary wer« ii»e 
result of Icelandic knowledge and toil— Lis own letters indicate this -and t^e bc>oks ediu^d 
by Stephanius and Resenins could hardly have been issued withoct help from the saA« s4«=T6e. 
Arngrimur J6nason was followed by many of his conn try men — the bishepe I*or)akar Skalai«», 
Brynjulfur Sveinsson (the "diacorerer of the Edda") and I*vr?or I»&rIakaooa. th* dillgcat 
annalist, BJdru Joosson (a Skar^ia), and, abo%'e all. by the iOostrioaa l^ormo^r T^rfasoa 
(Torfteus), the foremost Northern scholar of his day— these were the real workers in tb* lin- 
guistic hivo. To some others of no less merit, the lexicologists Magnus Olsfsson a»d (ia*^- 
mundur Andr^iison, and the grammarian Runolfnr Joosson, we have already ailaded. Tske 
away from Danish Old-Norihern letters in the next century the names of Tarfx«s~wbo lived 
through its first two decades — Arni Magnnsson and Jon Eirik*««n, not to ■keation tbo*e of 
the bishop, Finnur Jousson, whose monumental ^'Hiatoria crclesiasiiea*' (I rob. 4* Ilar- 
uiie 1773-78) covered the Catholic period of the island, during much of which the eiastic 
spirit was still alive ; of the lexicographer, Bjorn Ilalldorsson ; of tbe jurM:ra] arrhjfc<».ogin. 
Pall Vidalin ; and of the commentator, Grimnr Joasaon Thorkelln— take aw^y tliei^e nat&e*, 
and of how high a quality is the foreign residuum V Take away, again, the namca of Fiuxar 
Maguusson, Sveiubj5rn Kgilsson and Jon Si{rur^*svu from the eau-Iier portion of this cen- 
tury, and of the same high class only a single name — that of Rask, a great one— remains. 
But Rask, at the very outset of his career, maic himself au Icelander by pasting the better 
part of two years ou Icelandic soil, aud by lon^ and close association with Icelandic students 
iu Copenhagen. Of the valuable work done by »uch learned bodies, for instance, as tie Koyal 
Society of Northern Autiquaries, far more has come from the pens and brains of Icelanders 
thau appears on title-pages and In indices. Natives of the island are still active in the 
field— we purposely omit living names— and within thiiese last years a keen scholar and a 
zealous student has passed away in the person of Konra> Gisiaaon— also a Icxieol<rgist. Bat it 
ought to be acknowledged that in the generatJon now upon the stage, Denmark Is represent- 
ed by two fi(^res of the foremost order— those of Kulaiid and Wimmer— while in the two 
youngest generations Norway has produced the briiliaut group which includes Muu-h. K*y*er. 
linger, Storm, and Bugge. But the genera] literary production of Iceland in modern timfrs, in 
branches of letters other thau those we are treating of, is likewise surprising. Her people 
number 76,000, to which may be added 20,000 more in Northern North America who ctill 
prefer to speak their own tongbe rather than the English. This is the population of a minor 
city in the larger lands of civilization. But an examination of the yearly output of her 
presses— journals, magaxines, books, pamphlets— and a comparison of it with tbe literary 
productions of any other coramuDlty of many times the size, will show how marvelous is the 
love of letters still fostered by the rocky soil to which the Kddas and Sagas of Iceland's first 
eentoriei owe their birth. 



48 CHESS IN ICELA ND 



release the king from check at chessplay/' though it may not be easy to com- 
prehend the exact application of the term, which is found in no later dictionary 
{rjufa means "to break, break up*'); at missa alia menn i skdk, "excalcu- 
lari*' (tabe alle brikker i skak)— memi referring to all the figures; at eiga 
einn ynann eptir, "monochorus esse'* (have en brikke tilbage)— where again 
mann may mean, apparently, either piece or pawn. Of the chessmen the 
following are mentioned in their proper alphabetical places: — 1. hrokur^ 
"longurio," "latrunculorum satelles" (brikke i skakspil)— the Danish, as 
well as the Latin appellation of the rook being apparently unknown both 
to the author and the editor. Under this rubric is repeated the proverbial 
phrase already entered under skdk^ namely, at skdka i hrdksvcUdU *'aucto- 
ritate alicujus potentioris niti " (trodse nogen i haab om en storm^ends 
beskyttelsc) — which is the same definition as above in slightly different words. 
2. Pe^^ "latrunculorum vcrna, " "anteambulo'* (en bondo i skakspil), and 
figuratively, "homuncio," "nanus" (et drog, unyltigt menneske); with pe^- 
lifigtir " vel peplingxir " (?) and pe^macHir in the metaphorical senses of 
" pusio " (pusling, en little dreng), and illustrative phrases. As to other 
words, having more or less a chess character, reitur^ "square," is found 
with the signification of "bed in a garden," and then comes reitur i shik- 
hor^i^ "loculus latrunculorum in alvco" (tavl paa skakbrnettet). Tafl, here 
written, in accordance with its pronunciation, tahl, its derivative and com- 
pounds, do not receive any chess definitions. //>/<?/?= "pugnus" (na3ve), also 
written kncfi^ is here, but there is no trace oi hnefntafl in any of its shapes. 
Stans (that is, stariz) is explained as "incitae in ludo latrunculorum" (skak- 
mat), instead of citing its real signification, "drawn game." It is not unlikely 
that Rask — keen linguistic student and observer as he was — when, later in 
life, he returned from a journey to India, the birthland of the game — was 
possessed of a better knowledge of chess and its technical terms. 

The next lexicological work to be brought under notice is the Danish- 
Icelandic oneof KonraS Gislason {h. 1808 J. 1891), "Donsk orOab6k meS islenzk- 
um J)yi>ingum" (Kaupmannahofn 1851) — a most valuable, admirably ordered 
work, and the result of immense industry. To be first observed is that the 
game of chess (skakspil) is given as shtlktafl ; to i)lay chess is leika och skdk- 
tfifli, leika sknhtafl ; to check is scgja sUfik^ skdka ; chessboard (skakbriet) is 
taffhor^^ or more restrictedly, skdkhor^ ; chessplayer is skdkina^ur ; chess- 
man (=chcss figure) is uia^ur c^a pe^^ and a set of chessmen is the plural 
of the same expression — mennirnir og pe^w, indicating that, in the author's 
opinion, )na^ur and mctin relate only to the higher figures— excluding the 
pawns. All the names of the pieces are specially treated except konu7igur; but 
the queen is styled frit, the name droit nitig being given only to the queen 
at cards. Mdi (; sA-r^A) = Danish "skakinat," which is not literally exact; with 
a wider knowledge of chess usage in Iceland, it would have been skdk og 
mat, Konra?^ Gislason's dictionary, however, is the only Icelandic one, which, 
so far as wo know, registers the word patt — our "stalemate." — It is conve- 
nient to notice here, although out of its chronological order, another, much 
smaller and less pretentious Danish-Icelandic dictionary — but a very excellent 
one of its kind — the " A'l/ donsk or^abdk mc^ islenzkum pyxing tint'' of the 
pains-taking priest, J6nas .Wnasson. This hand -lexicon was issued at Reyk- 
javik in 1806. The author makes chess (Danish, "skak") both skdk and 
tafl, and has the phrases, **play chess," tefla, and "offer check," skdka. 



STRAY XOTES 49 



He follows conversational usage in employing, in chess nomenclature, ta/l 
and its compounds, and has a few quiu* modern chess-expressions. Chess- 
problem is tafldcemi; a game at chess «that is. the French, "partie") — for 
which meaning in English wc lack a special c*<iuivalent— is interpreted by 
to/T; the game of chess is skdkwff : chess[dayer is tnfl,na^'Ut\ skdkmac^ur; 
chessboard is tafihor^^ skdkbord- : checkmate and mate are both rendered by 
indu In regard to the piece-names, queen (Danish "frue") is properly given 
as drottning (e tafli)-^ the remainder noted are hrokur^ hixkujt, riddari and^^eo^. 
Under the Danish "spille" (to play), we have **to play a game of chess ''=a^ 
tefla etna skafc, which gives the added signification of **partie" to the word 
skdk — a modern conversational expression. Under the Danish *'leg'' (game), 
we have end-game =leikslok. The noun *'move" is rendered by leikur, to 
'*make a move at chess" being leika eitnt leik i Viffi. The dictionary's Da- 
nish vocabulary does not include -pat," (stalemate), *-rokkere" (to castle) or 
the foreign terms **en prise," "partic remise," (Icelandic, >//"// /c/fi) '*en pas- 
sant/* and so on. 

In 1856, at Leipsic, Theodor Mobius — an Old-Northern linguist and biblio- 
grapher of high rank — produced his '* Altnordischer Glossar," explaining the 
vocabularies of only a limited number of Old-Northern works, but which 
was, so far as it went, judiciously arranged and excellently edited, like 
everything that came from his well-ordered mind. The word skdk docs not 
come within his field, and he is nut correct in his renderint: oihnt'Uafl or hnef- 
tafl as "schachspiel." He has fnfiptnifjur — bag for men or pieces used at 
chess and other games, and says that such bags were sometimes provided 
with jewelled bands as in the Gullporis saga. From the same saga he cites 
the phrase, ^''P<er leku al hnet-iafli ok car taffil alt stefjpt of silf'rt^ en gylt 
alt hit rau^a,'' and interprets taffil as referring to the board — though, in 
that respect, the sentence is ol»scure. He likewise renders tafl by '*move," 
in the quotation, ver^a tafli acinni^ which is interpreted as to "come a move 
too late," and in a later citation from the Eyrby^'jya saga which reads peir 
hof^u or^ii tafli aeinni en Arnkell — but in both, the sense seems to bo 
figurative. 

Between the years 12551 and 1860 the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries 
issued at Copenhagen the important ** Lexicon poeticum" of Dr. JSvoinbjorn 
Egilsson {h. 1791, d. 1852), rector of the College of Iceland at Reykjavik, a 
deeply learned and unweariedly industrious scholar. This work is never 
likely to be superseded. The author's Latinity is above criticism, as is 
evinced by his rendering of skdk as **ludus schaochicus — getting rid, onoe 
for all, of the "Indus latrunculorum" of his predecessors — or rather confin- 
ing its use to other games than chess. Under skdk we have teffa skdk (to 
play chess), and mention is made of an anomalous genitive skdks (instead 
of skdkar) in the compound skdk.tleika (in the Sturlunga). Ilrdkur is first 
defined as the bird, *'pelicanus ater," the sea-raven— being the same word 
we are told as hrnukur ^ihen, secondly, as "longurio, vir longus, adjunela 
ignavijc et inertia* notione" (being very much what wo mean in English by 
a "lazy lout"); and thirdly, as "hodie centurio in ludo scacchico, est Pcr- 
sicum roch quod significat a) ingentem avem, b) camelum bellicum, cui in- 
sidet vir, arcu et sagittis armatus.*' This is less erroneous than one would 
expect, considering that the author quotes as his authority an article in the 
Copenhagen "Annalcr for Nordisk Oldkyndighed" (1838-9), which treats of 

7 



50 CHESS IN ICELAND 



chess in Iceland, and which bristles with misinformation. Under tafl we 
have tefla tafl (to play iafl)^ taflpungur ('* sacculus latrunculorum **), and 
other compounds. A compendium of the "Lexicon poeticum/' the original 
edition having become rare, has been published by Dr. Sveinbjorn Egilsson's 
son, the still living Benedikt Grondal, a man of great ability and versatil- 
ity—poet, publicist, satirist, naturalist. 

It was likewise for the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries that Eirik- 
ur J6nsson (6. 1822, rf. 1899), an Icelander, whose life, like that of KonriiO 
Gislason, was passed in Denmark, compiled the **01dnordisk Ordbog'' (Kjtt- 
benhavn 1863), intended, we believe, as a sort of prose complement to* the ** Lexi- 
con poeticum** of Sveinbjorn Egilsson. Skdk includes the phrase segja skdk, 
to give check ; and is stated to have two specially Icelandic flgur-ative mean- 
ings, namely, 1. A somewhat high-lying flat (level place) in a tun (the 
meadow surrounding an Icelandic farmstead); and 2. A (low) loft in a house, 
of which it embraces or covers only a portion — we translate the Danish de- 
scriptions literally, and shall return hereafter to these senses of skdk. Under 
skdktafl we have, here as elsewhere, the phrases leika skdktafl and leika a^ 
skdkxafii\ while the word is also rendered '* chess-play," "the game of 
chess," and additionally ''chess-flgurcs and chessboard as well." The two 
compounds skdkbar^ and skdkma^ur (chessplayer) follow. Under the verb 
skdka occurs the phrase, skdka einhveijum (to offer check to some one — the 
verb thus governing the dative), with the passage, which we already know 
from the Olafs saga helga, ^d skdka^i jarl af hdnum riddara, rendered by 
**he captured a knight in giving check.". Thereafter we are presented with 
the familiar metaphor, skdka i hroksvaldi (vise sig anmassende, dristig under 
on miegtigeres beskyttelse — the interpretation being virtually that of Bjorn 
Halld6rsson); but thereafter is quoted another and similar phrase, which we 
have not heretofore seen, and which is said to possess the same signification, 
to wit, skdka i skjoli einhvers — to '* check (attack) under the protection (shel- 
ter) of some one." Mat and mdta are indicated as Icelandic. Tefla i upp- 
ndm is to "play a piece so that it can be taken" (i. e, to sot it en prise), 
Stanz (eller stans) is interpreted as "stoppage" (Danish, "standsning"), but 
is not connected with chess, and we are told that it has no plural. Tefli 
occurs in its place without definition, but with it are cited both Jafntefti and 
Jndtefli (the latter inserted in no other dictionary)— they also without defini- 
tions. They mean respectively "drawn game" (remise) and (a game or po- 
sition drawn by) "perpetual check." The chessmen explained are hrdkur, 
riddari and pe^. The first-named reads (we English the Danish renderings) 
as follows: 1. (bird), see hraukur; 2. the rook at chess; 3. "a tall, drowsy 
fellow, a lout;" 4. "the principal manager, mover; hrdkur alls fagna^txr^ 
the chief originator of all social amusements." It is not easy to decide at 
a glance how far these metaphors (3 and 4) relate to the bird, or to any other 
literal signification oihrokur, Hnefi is "the principal piece in a game called 
hneftafl;"' and hneftafla is a piece in that game; while we are supplied with 
the usual orthographical variants. Tafl and its family take some space. We 
have already alluded to tefii, Tafl^ itself is : — 1. (Danish tavleleg^ i. e. "ta- 
ble play" and brcetspil, "tables"); her eru brogch i tafli, "something un- 
derhand is going on" h. a move at "tables;" ver^a tafli seitmi, to "be- fo- 
restalled" (a move to late); 2. (Danish, tavl)^ set of men at "tables," or at 
chess; ?iann svarfarthi taflinti^ he overturned the men. The noun tafia is 



1 - .. 



StRAY NOTES 51 



here a board for tables, *^ chessboard/' and subsidiarily ^'figures'' in a game; 
tafibrag^ is an "artifice at tables/' and in the plural taflbrdgch, "know- 
ledge, skill in table-play;'* taflma^ur is "one who plays tables, chess." 
Under the verb iefla we have iefla skdk^ "play chess" (St. Olafssaga); tefla 
tn^ einhvem (to play with or against any one); iefla um eiithvert (to play 
for something), with the proverbial saying, ^egar um lif er at tefla (when 
life is at stake); tefldr^ the participle, lias a singularly modern meaning 
in vera upp tefUlr (to be played out, i. o. finished, ended, exhausted). 

But of the various Icelandic dictionaries that of GuBbrandur Vigfusson 
(Oxford 1872) — the sole author of which he was, although the title-page in- 
cludes a second name— is by all odds the greatest and best; indeed it is 
hardly too high praise to class it among the foremost score of lexicological 
works — in or of any language whatever— which have hitherto seen the 
light. 5* To some extent it likewise treats the modern dialect of Iceland, 

* Guftbrandar Vfgftiaton (ft. March 13, 1827, d. January 31, 1889) is the representative 
leelandlc scholar. With a knowledge which would havo given him the highest place as a 
Germanlst, he chose to restrict the work of his life to a field In which he may be said not 
only to have had no peer, but not even a second. For no man has ever known so thoroughly 
the linguistic history of his native land as ho that of Iceland, and of its broader old-north- 
em domain; and none has ever been so minutely familiar with every period, and every 
product, of a literature of so great a compass, and of such long duration. His erudition was 
not merely profound, but amazingly corapn-hcnsive. It is impossible to review the offspring 
of hit pen, from such essays as the youthful but novel /ind able tractate on the chronology 
of the sagas of Iceland ("Um timatal i Itilondiuga Rogum") to the stately volumes which he 
Issued under the auspices of Oxford Uuiversity, without a feclin;? of stupefaction at the depth 
and breadth of his learning, and the continuity aud bulk of his labor. His mind and mem- 
ory were imbued with all the life and lore of by-gone times. IIo had wandered through 
every highway and byway of Iceland's past, and through those of the past of all the other 
lauds traversed and chronicled and sung by her saganien and her skalds, until he could be- 
come, at will, a citizen of any age, a contemporary of any generation — voyaging backward, 
hither and thither, in time, as a man travels to and fro geographically. To employ a eom- 
parisou suggested by the game of chess, he could reproduce every forgotten episode, re-shape 
every lost literary creation, revivify every vanished scone of all the centuries which make up 
the seven ages of Icelandic letters, just as the blindfold player of many simultaneous games 
rebuilds, after each of his moves, by a flash of volition, a wholly diflfering position, bringing 
again within his vision a battle scene which had disappeared— a field of action with lohomes 
and stratagems, moves and counter-moves, pieces and pawns, wholly other than those which 
he viewed a moment before, or will view a moment later. lie could almost interview the 
heroes, the historians, the poet« of ancient days, and get the real meaning of a histor- 
ical passage out of Snorri StnrluMon himself, or persuade Kgill Skallagrimsson to Interpret 
an obscure kenning, or replace a corrupted word. "Gudbrandnr/" says Dr. Kourad Mauror, 
himself a man of gifts as marvelous, "war ein gans ungewohnlich begabter mann, von 
raachester faaauugsgabe uud unerniadlichetn fleissc. Seine fertigkeit im lesen und In dor 
benrtheilung von haudschriften war oine ganz ausserordenlliche; die verloschensto schrlft 
vermochte er noch zu entxiffern, uud wochenlang konte er von raorgens bis abends abschreibeu 
ohne dass seine augen ermUdoten. Rasch wusste er sich auch in den filiationsverhftttnissen 
der handschriften zurecht zu finden, und von bier aus filr seine quullcnausgaben siets den 
richtlgen text r.u wUhlen und die nOtigeu varianteu auszulesen. Seine ausgebreiteto bekant- 
schaft mit der gesamten gedruckteu und ungedruckten litteratur seiner helroat lies ihn Ubcr 
dies Im vereiue mit seinem bewundornngswQrdigen ged&ohtnisite stets alle beziehungen gegen- 
w&rtig haben, die ihm fUr die eriedigung irgend eiuer aufgabe von nutten sein konten, und 
vine teltene kombinationsgabe gesttateto ihm aus dem reiohen materiale die ttberrasehend- 
iten iohlilsse zu ziohen.'* His memory was so astounding, his sense of metre and style and 
expression and verbal furce, so acute, his knowledge of the literary phases of every locality 
and every age so complete, that, perhaps, as Dr. Maurer says, his trust in his own vaat powers 
now and then betrayed him into errors, which less self-eonfidence would have led him, by 
a new verification of his authorities, to avoid. But his instinctive gaessei were often better 
than other critics' studied certainties. His life was too Induitrloos, and therefore too seda- 



52 CITESS IN ICELAND 



which fact adds greatly to its value. We shall endeavour to discuss its state- 
ments at some length, and to connect with them some observations omit- 
ted when reporting the chess vocables and phrases included in preceding 
dictionaries. 

Skdk.—We are told that the word is of Persian origin; we have the ver- 
bal expression iefla skdk (play chess), while, with the same meaning, we are 
given under tefla^ the form, tefla skdktafl, but we nowhere find Konr48 
Gislason's leika a^ skdktafli (precisely our English "play at chess.") The 
term for chessboard is skdkbor^^ and under tafl^ also taflhor^^ while skdktafl 

ded, to admit of many intlmacief, tbongh the few who knew him nearly cherished for him 
an ardent esteem. '^The more closely the career and life-work of Vigfiisson are examined/' 
asserts Mr. Edmund Gosse, '*the more his genius will be found to shine, and only those who 
have, in some poor and undistinguished degree, followed where he led, can even begin to 
estimate his greatness.*' Enumerating the philologist's characteristics, he exclaims: — '* Who 
that has seen it will forget that pale and fretted coonfenance ? Who will forget the enthu- 
siasm, the fidelity, the sweet and indulgent unworIdliue«8 ? " Gu^brandur Vigfttsson's col- 
league and fellow worker, Professor York Powell, declares that *' Those who knew him will 
not need my testiraouy to his strong, sincere and generous character, his extraordinary and 
well-controlled memory, his wide learning in many tongues, his eager and unwearied Indus- 
try, and his fine literary taste. For myself, I can only say that the longer I knew him the 
more I honoured, trusted and loved him." He calls him "the greatest Scandinavian scholar 
of our century." Another of his Oxford contemporaries, the head of Corpus Christ! College, 
Dr. Charles Plumraer, characterizes him as *<one of the most remarltable men that Oxford 
has seen during the present century," and adds that ** to say that his loss is irreparable is 
to use feeble language." After an enumeration of some of his works Dr. Plummer goes on : — 
'*But in spito of all that he did, it is rather on what he was that those who knew him best 
will love to dwell; on his simple and noble character, his genuine and unconventional piety, 
his — not so much superiority to as — uncontcioasness of every petty and selfish motive, his 
single-hearted dovotion to learning, his scorn of anything like pedantry or pretence, his 
loyalty to his friends, his remembrance of, and gratitude for any, even the smallest acts of 
liiudnons done to himHelf. In the midst of those who were privileged to know him there will 
remain that longing memory of which the great Italian poet speaks for — 

Lo di c'hau detto at dolce amico addio." 

Gudbrandur Vigfdsson was a man of simple life, of icindly nature, of generous sentiments. At 
a writer of Icelandic his style was as clear as it was concise, and it possessed an unaffected, 
sometimes subtle charm which those who have perused bis notes of travel in Norway and 
Germany will well remember. He rarely allowed himself to be drawn into polemics — which 
have such a baneful fascination for so many of bis literary compatriots, with whom argument 
too often degenerates into abuse, and criticism into invective — even lampoons, open or anony- 
mous, inucndoes and misstatements, leers and jeers and sneers, scurrility and calumny, being 
all regarded as legitimate weapons of the publicist. Of anything lilte this weakness of igno- 
bler minds there Is to be found almost as little in his career as in that of his great contem- 
porary, countryman and friend, the pure-minded J6u 8Igur7)S8on. The last work of the au- 
thor of the " Dictionary," though left nearly finished, has not yet seen the light. It was a 
book on the Origins of Iceland, comprising the Landnima, or Book of Settlement, and other 
works relating to the earliest age of Icelandic history and the foundation of the Icelandic state. 
It will doubtless reach the learned public in lime, and will add to the vast debt whieh the 
world owes to him and to his memory, A complete list of his multitudinous works, and of 
the biographies published since his death, compiled by his friend, Jon I>orkelBson the younger, 
and accompanied by au excellent life and portrait, will be found in the periodical " Andvarl" 
(XIX, pp. l-4«, Reykjavik 1894). Ho was buried. In the mourning presence of all learned 
Oxford, under the grenn turf and amid the quiet walks of the cemetery of St. Sepulchre. 
The spires and towers of the noblest of universities, upon which his labours shed such lustre, 
rise above the grave of one of the two greatest Icelanders of tlie nineteenth century. The 
halls of the auclent school have sheltered few scholars, whether Knglish or foreign, whether 
of earlier or later times, whose work was more arduous, more sincere, more brilliant, or likely 
to be more enduring than that of this adopted Oxonian— over whose birth-place gleam the auro- 
rasof Iceland.— The following unpublished letter from Dr. GuSbrandur Vigfiisson wa« written 



STRA Y XOTES 53 



is restrictedly defined as "a game of chess'' (that is, '' partie,"*) for which 
there are numerous references to tlie old writings— one to the year 1155 (the 
partie, which we know of, between Valdemar the Great and one of his cour- 
tiers), another to 1238 (Bishop H6t6lf and the deacon), and again to deeds 
of the I4th century in the "Diplomatarium Xorvegiinim" (Kristiania 1849-95) 
— in which last the meaning would hardly be **agame,'* but rather a '*set 
of chessmen/* or a ** chessboard," or both. Here GuiM)randur Vigfusson, in 
accordance with the encyclopiodic character of his lexicon, says: — "Tliere is 
no authentic record of chess in Scandinavia before the 12th century, for the 

Jnatbefora be made hi* Ust risit to Copeuhagon. It alludes to bis "Origfoos Islandlcac*/' and 
■ome otber of bis lltorary plans ; it will give, too, aa idoa of bis terse, luformal Kuglisb. It 
!■ dated from the Deanttry, Winchester, March 31, 1887: — ''I write this with a somewhat 
relieved mind, having lately eleared my desk, and sent to press a mountain of MSS towards 
the Origineg Ulandica, The Landn&mabolc is all in print, text, translation and introduction, 
flomo 240 pages. The whole work is (after the faHhion of the Corpus) to be In 2 vols, divided 
Into five books, the books into sections, whereof Landnamabok Is I. 1. ; the 2d book is on 
the Gonstitntion, Libttlu* leading, and ancient Laws ; tlie Sd book on Conversion, and Lives 
of Bishops. All this is in the printers* hands, and makes volume one. The Ith, oM Sagas ; 
6lhy Wineland and Arctic records. 

I am now on the wing to Copenhagen, on a short viiiit, to thiidh Kome MS work. I did 
a pile of work In 188t — so I shall one day bo an emani'ip-ited man here, independent of Co- 
penha^n. 

It has long been a day dream — a waking dream as we say— to see Italy, and I long 
more to see Florence than even Home ; on account of her pure Italian, glorious record*, 
HIehel-Angelo. The gods know whethur I may not one day make use of your most kind 
offer. — I live here In Kngland (Oxford) an hermit lifo, have a few friends — Mr. Powell in 
first rank of such ; but don*t mix in society, never did, never could. In a drawing-room I 
feel dullish and uncomfortable; it is a sort of 'mortal antipathy' as your countryman, Wen- 
dell Phillips, so well and appropriately calls it. In term time I have a few lectures to give 
(though usually reading with a class, no public lectures), and in the vacatiuufi I have the only 
chance of working with Mr. I*owell, who is all the terms takuu up with l4<icturing and coaching — 
a great pity to use him for that. In the lonq; vacation we moan to do a great spell of work 
(or rather he) In translating for the 2d volume, so lh<it the bulk may be in, in the coarse uf the 
summer; then remains the Indt-x (horribile dictu), and a few esHayA. 

I have some hope next Xmas [of being able to reach Italy] or if not, then next Kaster or 
Lent. In the summer I am besides bound to bo here, for then tbu printers have more lei- 
■nre, and they promise to make two-fold progress in June-September; and that meani a great 

deal. 

no MO good as to give my respectful compliments to your mother. Next I beg yon excuse 
a hasty and dlsordercil letter. I^ there any thing I can do at (Copenhagen for you V If so, a 
message will reach me addressed to Mr. Bruun, the Librarian of the Hoyal Library (St. Kongl. 

Bibl.). 

I should advise you to get photographs of specimens of these old typo<< : — 

1. 1510-58. 

2. .Tohn Mathluson's types 1559-1575. 

3. Bp. Gudbrand's fresh types, the first book I saw in them was Ilemmingsen's Via 
Vitae, 1576, 12* or 8*— I write from memory. These typos wore battered and were used for 
l(i8 years— the last book I have seen in them being Wldallns | Postllla), 6th edUlon of 1714. 

4. Bp. Ilarboe's types. 
.O. Hrappsey types. 

I made some very iufonnal stu<lies on this subject in 18^>0 or about then, so something 
bangM «r sticks still in n-y memory. 

I am here staying a few days with my old friend of Oxford and I>lctIonary memory, 
I>ean Kitehin. By to morrow I leave for Denmark via Harwich and Usbjerg, west of Jutland; 
hope to be at Copenhagen by Ksster. Mean to see old friends In Jutland, my countryman, 
Hanncs Finseo, in RIbe, and another Danish friend In Aarhus. Have In my head some quaer 
theories about ultiroa [Thule] being In Jutland ; will see It by the way. Powell and I hava 
spoken of making a little pamphlet at the forthcoming Kask ce ntenary — Ort^wes DaniciBf 
a brief essay on this subject I am big with." 



54 CH^SS IN ICELAND 



passage cited from the Fornaldar sSgur'' (that is from one of the vellums of 
the Hervarar saga) ^Ms mythical/* and as to Olafs saga helga, he considers 
the game between King Canute and Ulf Jarl to be hnefatafl^ as it undoubt- 
edly was. He goes on to inform us that *'in Iceland there is still played a 
peculiar kind of chess, called vald-skdk^ in which no piece, if guarded, can 
be taken or exchanged." This variety, it may be remarked en passant^ must 
be of Icelandic invention, since nothing similar is reported from Qther lands, 
and we can add that, only a few years ago,— twenty years after the publi- 
cation of the "Dictionary"— its practice was still continued in the island. It 
must be one of the oddest "abarten des schachspiels," as the Germans call 
them. Skdkniachur is interpreted both as "chessman" (figure), and "chess- 
player;" while the other, but similarly formed skdkmachur (being, as we 
are told, the Old High German "scAhman" and modern German "schacher") 
signifies "robber," "highwayman," and is cited as occurring [only?] in the 
I^ilJrekssaga, or story of Dieterich (Theodoric). The verb skdka (check) 
"is frequent in modern usage" as a chess term, and is used, in a meta> 
phorical sense, in skdka i pvi sJqJolif "to check one in that shelter, i. e. to 
take advantage of one (unduly)." A modern use of this metaphor may be 
seen in the following sentence written very recently: — hann skdkar (checks, 
attacks) i pvi skjoli (shelter, protection, cover) a^ hann sleppi vich dbyrg^ina, 
" he attacks (acts) under that cover, so that he may escape responsibility." 
In the skdk rubric we have, too, a definition, (marked as section II.), given 
to another figurative usage, "metaphorically a seat, bench, in the popular 
phrsLse, tyltu p4r d skdkina, take a seat I" Looking back, therefore, at 
Eirikur Jdnsson's vocabulary, and at the present one, we note that skdk, 
in its figurative sense, means: — 1. an (elevated?) portion of the home-meadow 
about an Icelandic beer; 2. a low loft in a house covering only a part 
of the ground-story; and 3. (here), a seat, bench, settle. All three have 
been verbally explained, by a native Icelandic scholar, as bearing a certain 
resemblance to each other — all conveying the idea of narrowness and 
length and regularity, or rectangularity (like the shape of a bench or settle). 
It is possibly too bold to suggest a rank or file on the chessboard (of the 
same outline) as the link which connects them with skdk=chess. It is also 
suggested that definitions 2 and 3 may be one and the same, namely, a por- 
tion of a loft arranged as a large settle. The relation to skdka (check) of 
the meaning "attack" (in the phrase cited, skdka i pvi skjdlt) is less remote, 
but the whole subject demands investigation by a competent Icelandic linguist. 
Names of the figures. — The special scacchic significations of konungur 
(kongur), drottning and biskup are not referred to, although we have them 
sub pe^ in the compounds, kongspe^ (king's pawn) drottningarpe^ (queen's 
pawn) and biskupspecf* (bishop's pawn). But the following are included in 
their alphabetical places:—!, hrokur (rook) the derivation of which is set 
down as "from the Indian roc7i=elephant's castle, through the English— 
which, as is now known, is not correct. The word roch or mch does not 
exist in any Indian tongue; and, in no language, does any word similar to 
it mean "elephant's castle" (the writer confusing the English "castle," as 
a chess terra, with the German thurm and Danish taarn — both meaning orig- 
inally "tower;" and perhaps also with alfin, alfU, the mediaeval name of 
the chess bishop, formed from the Arabic i7=the, and /f^=elephant — thus af- 
fording, if our suggestion be correct, a good instance of the complex con- 



STRAY NOTES ^ 



fusion which usually arises wlien a philoloj^isf, ignorant of chess and its 
history, tries to write about the game and its terms). The truth seems to be 
—to state the matter briefly— tliat the Sanskrit name of what we call the 
rook was ratha (in the Ben<?ali idiom, rotJia)^ meaning twar)chariot, and 
that when this word had made its way to Porso-Arabian regions it found a 
somewhat similar vocable — say roA:/< or rukh — in use (with a ver>* ditTorent 
signification in Persia but) among the Arabic people as the name of a wag- 
gon, or other vehicle, and that the influence of false eiymologioal ideas led 
to the substitution of the extra-Indian word for the Sanskrit term. This 
statement is not too clear — and not at all satisfying — but the exact source 
and story of the technical chess- word rook (and consequently tirokur), are 
still shrouded in doubt, despite the efforts of many Orientalists to elucidate 
them. Its connection with the appellation of a gigantic Eastern bird called 
roc (in the "1001 Nights'') is as fabulous as the existence of the bird itsell*; 
and equally devoid of demonstration are some oilier etymological alhliations 
which have been suggested. Arrived in Arabic Spain, the word took the 
form of roque, and, subsequently, in early Kalian of rocau in old French 
of roc and in English of rool\ adapting itself in England by popular assim- 
ilation to the already existing form *'rook " (the name of a bird); from Eng- 
land it passed — with a knowledge of chess — to Iceland, where an old word 
hrdkur (apparently of varied meaning, but most likely cognate, both ety- 
mologically and in signification, with the English bird-name) was likewise 
in existence, and was seized upon as furnishing, to tlie popular mind, the 
proper orthography. \Vhat is notable, as we have before hinted, is that 
the only nations, outside of the Romance group, to permanently adopt the 
ancient Perso-Arabic name were England and Iceland — so that the geogra- 
phy of the term indicates the path of chess after its introduction (through 
Spain) to Europe. Gu^brandur Vigfusson's delinition is **tlie rook or castle 
in chess," and he has the compound, hroksmdt^ "checkmate with the 
rook." In connection with this word, he cites two proverbial phrases, the 
first of which is: skdka i hrnkacaUH, "to check in the guard of the rook." 
At first sight, his rendering of the saying seems to be meaningless as an 
English clause, and impossible as the description of a movement at chess. 
But recurring to the translations of the saying given by Bjorn HalldrSrsson 
and Eirikur Jonsson, we can see that, as a metaphor, the signification is to 
"show one's self bold or arro;;ant towards another, knowing that wo can 
do so safely, being ourselves under powerful protection;" to "attack another 
boldly, protected by higher infiuonce." The literal meaning would seem to 
be to "give check to the king with a piece that is guarded by another," 
as when a bishop gives check, on an adjoining square, but cannot be taken 
by the king because it is proleclcd by a rook — which would bo exactly to 
skdka i hrdksva.fU. The synonomous phrase, sJidka i slJdU^ we have exam- 
ined under skdk, Tlio second of the proverbial sayings under hrohur is eiga 
ser hrok l horni, of which the lexicographer himself furnishes no rendering, 
and which none of his predecessors cite. Literally it is to "have or possess 
a rook in the corner ;" figuratively, it would be to "have support at one's 
back, or in reserve," to know that one has a protector or aid in a known 
place, and therefore at once available in case of need — just as when the 
white queen threatens to attack, or mate, the adverse king by moving 
upon the latter's first or royal rank, the player of the black pieces may 



56 CHESS IN ICELA ND 



comfortably feel that he can nullify the action by means of his rook, which 
is still standing in its corner. The use of hrokuvy in these metaphorical 
expressions, is evidently owing, in part at least, to the fact that hrokur 
is a distinctively chess word, while king and queen and bishop and knight 
are not; they, therefore, do not lend themselves so easily to similes, or met- 
aphors, which originate on the chess table. It is under mat that we must 
seek one of the compounds of hrokur^ which is hrokstndt, a mate effected 
by means of a rook. 2. Riddari has, as a subsidiary signification, **a knight 
in chess," with references to Olafs saga helga and to the Sturlunga saga — 
being the episodes of Kniit (Canute) and Ulf, and of young I^orgils and 
Gizur Jarl. But no compounds are cited, allhough we have under pe^ (see 
below) riddarapei^j that is, *' knight's pawn.*' 3. Pe^ has for its only ety- 
mological elucidation, "Fr[ench] p^on,'' and is defined as **a pawn in 
chess," and thereafter are koiigspe^^ *'a king's pawn," hrokspe^, riddara- 
pe^^ drottiiingarpe^ , hiskupspe^; pe^mdt^ with the citation of Magus saga, 
23. 44 (the tales of Hirtungur and Rognvald), or pe^rifur, ** checkmate 
with a pawn." Next follows, under a rubric of its own, i)e^;>ia^Mr, ** a foot- 
man " (with a citation of the Karlamagniis saga, 31) ; and with the additional 
gloss, '*a pawn in chess = pe^'." Noteworthy is the derivation of the 
Icelandic form from the nominative stem of '* pedes" (ped-), rather than 
from the low Latin inflectional stem (pedmi-)^ of which the Romance and 
English languages have availed themselves ("pion," **pawn"). Or is there 
a long-lingering reminiscence of the Arabic and Persian words {baidaq^pi- 
y(fdah-^8t,3 they are transliterated by Van der Linde — in the Icelandic form? 
Other Chess Terms. — The remaining words of a chess character occur- 
ring in the "Icelandic-English Dictionary" arc: — 1. Mdt, no derivation 
being suggested; the definition is *' checkmate,'* with references to the Vig- 
lundar saga 31 (the episode of Orn), the Fornaldar sogur (I., 443— the Her- 
varar-saga), and the Brag^a-Magus saga (the Rognvald tale); "various kinds 
of mate are pe^mdt, glei^armdt, fretstertsmdt^ hroksmdt. heimamdt,^' to se- 
veral of which we have already alluded. Glei^armdt literally means a 
"straddle-mate," and is described by Mr. Olafur DaviSsson, as a mate or 
mates effected by the queen and rooks in three corners of the board, the 
king to be mated being in the fourth— being doubtless one of the successive 
mates in the same game, on which we have commented in our first essay ; 
its title comes from the adjective gleichur^ "standing astraddle,*' "with 
one's legs wide apart." The verb mdta has merely the definition:— "to 
checkmate, in chess." — 2. Jafntefli is given as "an equal, drawn game," 
citing the Viglundar saga (the episode translated in an abridged shape in 
a preceding page), but it is not treated as a special term, the inference 
being that it is applied to other games. The similarly formed compound, 
prdteffi (drawn by perpetual check), finds no place anywhere in the "Dic- 
tionary," perhaps on account of its modernity. 3. Uppndm, of which the 
second meaning given is "a chess term, tefla i uppndm, to expose a piece 
so that it can be taken (Sturlunga saga, iii. 123)"— the passage being the 
known one from the anecdote of I^orgils skariM); "hence the phrase, vera 
i upjmdmi, to be in immediate danger." Of course, i upptidm (accusative) 
and i uppndmi (dative) are exactly the French en prise (of which, for lack 
of an equivalent expression, we make use in English). As we have else- 
where suggested, it is worthy of remark that a technical chess expression 



STRAY NOTES 57 



of this character should have been invented and established in Iceland five 
hundred years ago — happily formed and i»recise as it is — when many of the 
modem tongues of Europe have been satisfied to borrow a foreign phrase 
to describe this chess situation. Literally uppndm means the "taking up," 
in the sense of "capture," and i uppndmi is "in the position of being taken 
up (picked up), or captured." 4. Vald (meaning "power," "might," "au- 
thority") receives a subsidiary interpretation as "in chess, a guard," with 
the compounds: hroksvald, pc^svaldy the former of which we have discussed, 
indicating, as the most suitable rendering, to be "defended by,";){?o^v*fraZd thus 
signifying, "defended by a pawn." 5. Leppur has in the " Dictionary" only 
the literal senses of "lock of hair; a rag, tatter," no mention being made of 
its modern employment in chess as "interposed piece," which, it is possible, 
grew out of the sense of "a filling" for a crack, hole or the like, or a "stop- 
gap," inherent by daily usage in **rag." 6. Stanz, of which the same note 
may be taken of the absence of any chess definition, is explained as "akin to 
sta^sa (c5s=nz" by a philological law), a rare verb having in it the stem 
standi the equivalent of our similar English form. It is interpreted as "a 
standstill, hesitation," and, in a phrase, "amazement;" it is used in Icelandic 
chess, as already noted, as "a game drawn by reason of lack of mating pow- 
er." The noun is followed by a verb, stanza^ "to pause, stop. "-—These in- 
clude, as is believed, all the terms relating to chess which are discoverable 
in the Oxford dictionary. The most important omission is perhaps patt (stale- 
mate), which is left unrecorded because it is never met with in any of the 
classical writings. 

Ta/l, hfie fatafl'. — The former word is said by Dr. Gul^brandur Vigfusson 
to be "from the Latin tabula^ but borrowed at a very early time, for it is used 
even in the oldest poems;" and it is described as "a game, like the Old-En- 
glish tables or draughts; used also of the old hneftaf!^ and later of chess and 
various other games" — whereafter follow numerous quotations. Then are 
cited the compounds hnefatafl, skdktafl (chess) and go^atafl, as well as the 
popular sayings: — t?ero^a tafli seivni^ "to be too late," literally "to bo too 
late at or for the game;" briig^ i tafli, "tricks in the game," "foul play." 
Finally we arc told that tafi is used "also of dice-throwing, diceing," and il- 
lustrative passages are given. The rubric closes with various compounds, in 
which tafl is the first element, such as taflbor^, "a chess-board (for playing 
the hneflafl or chess);" taflbrdg^, "feats of playing;" tafife, "a bet" [lite- 
rally, "game-money"]; taflnui^ur^ "a player at chess ot fine f tafl;" taftpung- 
ur, "a bag for the pieces;" taflspeki^ "skill in playing"— all with citations. 
It should be observed that in the quotations in which tafl appears to mean "set 
of men," or "board," or both "men and board," and its plural tofl seems to 
have the sense of "pieces," "figures,"— some of which senses we have noted 
in reading the Kr6karefs saga— the author attempts no precise elucidation 
of these distinctions, a fact which doubtless comes both from his want of 
chess-knowledge, or knowledge of what the game, tables^ was, and from the 
late and, therefore, uncommonly modern character of their significations. 
His next rubric is the brief one devoted to tafia, "a piece in a game of ta- 
bles." Under the verb which is formeii from the noun tafl, to wit, tcfla, 
the rendering is "to play at chess or draughts," and, after several passa- 
ges, is noted the metaphorical phrase, lefla [any one] tipp, "to take one 
up, beat in a game of draughts." Like the primitive noun, "the word is 

8 



58 CHESS IX ICELA ND 



also used of dice; the passion of the Teutons for dice is attested by Tacitus 
(Germania, eh. 24);'* and next, the Icelandic phrase, um lift^ er at tefla^ is 
translated *Mife is on the die/' that is, life is at stake, ^^used metaphori- 
cally of a great emergency." This section is followed by two others, tefli^ 
a noun employed — as would seem to be the author's opinion— solely in the 
compound ^*a/>i(e/!i. *' a drawn game," which he refrains from illustrating; 
and tefling^ "playing," also without citations. It ought to be constantly 
borne in mind that nowadays the words tafl and tefla are in as much use 
as chess-words, as are "chess" and "play," that is "play at chess" — and 
so they probably have been nearly ever since the introduction of chess. 
Now wo come to the diflBcult word hnefi. First of all, we must call attention 
to the fact that Gu^brandur Vigfusson seemingly reckons it as a vocable 
differing essentially from hnefi = fist (the Scotch "nief," or "nieve," Danish 
"nacve," as he tells us), since he puts it in a separate rubric; but he does 
not venture on any etymological suggestion in reference to it. He explains 
it as "the king in a kind of chess played by the ancients" (t. e., the old 
Icelanders) ; " the game was called hnefatofl^ which is variously spelt nettafl 
and hnettafi (which are contracted or assimilated forms); hneflafl; hnotiafl 
(a bad form) in a spurious verse; hnefatafi (the true form). The game is 
best described in Fribpj6(s saga, and in one of the riddles in Hervarar saga 
(where, however, the rhymed replies are not genuine): *Who are the maids 
that fight about their unarmed lord, the dark all day defending, but the fair 
slaying r The players were two, as in chess; there was only one king {hnefi)^ 
here called *the unarmed lord'; the pieces {tofiur) were white and red, the 
white attacking, the red defending the hnefi: >a^ er hnefatafi, enar dokkri 
very a hnefann, en hinar hvitari soehja. Whenever tafl is mentioned, this 
particular game seems [in the ancient writings] to be understood; and the 
fatal game of chess between King Canute and Earl Ulf in Roskilde A. D. 
1027 was probably a hneftafi. We see from Morkinskinna (p. 186) that it was 
still played at the beginning of the 12th century, but in after times it was 
superseded by the true chess (skdk) ; both games were probably of the same 
origin."— the last remark indicating clearly the limited acquaintance with 
chess and its annals enjoyed by the lexicographer ("der wol wenig vender 
geschichte des schachspiels versteht," says Dr. V. d. Linde of this final 
phrase). ^' For whatever we may not know about hnefatafi, we do know 
that it could never have lain in the same cradle as chess. The rubric closes 
with the citation of a compound substantive, hneitafia^ "the piece of the 
hnefi ; " and by a reference to the words halatafi and Ttunn, with which we 
are likely to have to do hereafter.— We have omitted several citations made 
under hnefi. Dr. GuObrandur Vigfusson's too brief description, though it can- 
not be called an elucidation, was the earliest at all consistent notices of this 
form of "tables." It is impossible to take final leave of the Oxford work, 
without expressing once more our opinion of the value — despite some errors — 
of its treatment of the terminology of chess. It is of far more importjince 
than all that had been previously written— not only in dictionaries, but in 
other books as well — in regard to the oldest periods of the Icelandic game. 
The newest general dictionary of the old Norse, or ancient Icelandic, is 
that of Dr. Johan Fritzner, first issued in 1867, and published anew, enlarged 
into three goodly octavos, at Kristiania in 18S6-1896. It is a compilation 

ftT «<QtteUoDtiudi«D/* p. 61. 



STRAY NOTES 5d 



of extraordinary labor, and, as a vast storehouse of passages from the old 
writings, is of the highest utility. But its author's knowledge of the laws 
of etymology and of foreign idioms was not too extended— indeed the lineage 
and affiliation of the vocables which he treats seem hardly to have come 
—in a manner at all complete— within the scope of his work; but in the 
case of chess terms he once or twice attempts to consider the matter of deri- 
vation, doing so, however, with disastrous results. He does not illustrate 
the word skdkmaff>ur^ in its chess sense— as he does not find it in the classic 
period— but only in the sense, skdkniac^urz=TohheT (Danish, rdver\ noting, in 
a proper way, its Old High German and New High German kinship (**ght. 
scdhman, nht. scMcTter*") — though here may be, so far as Icelandic is con- 
cerned, another case of an effort at popular etymology on the part of the 
saga's compiler— and ends with passages from the I'iOreks saga. In the 
next column, he treats skdktaft, **8kakspil, braet med tilherende brikker 
(tdflur),"' then, after entering his illustrative quotations, he turns into the 
field of etymology, and says:— "At skakspil i det latinske sprog heder ludtis 
latronum eller latrunculorum synes henpege derpaa, at vi i skdktaft har det 
samme skdk som forekommcr i skdkma^r'* — that is, in the skdkmeUhr ^^rohhev 
of the preceding column. This means : — That chess in Latin being called ludus 
latronum or latrunculorum would seem to indicate that in skdktaft [= chess] 
we have the same skdk which appears in skdkmachr'"' [= robber]. This is a 
gem of blundering. To understand it fully, we most remember that in Latin, 
latro^ of which latrunculus is a diminutive, signifies "robber." Now, first of 
all, chess is not called in (ancient) Latin ludus latrunculorum^ nor by any 
other name; for the Romans knew nothing of chess, since it was not intro- 
duced into any part of the Roman dominions until some centuries after they 
had ceased to be Roman, and, in fact, was probably not in existence anywhere 
until the Roman empire had itself gone out of being. It is true that in very 
early modern times, some writers of Latin, out of ignorance, employed "ludus 
latrunculorum'' to designate the game of chess, but the more intelligent have 
used "ludus scacchorum, (scaccorum)," a neo-latinism formed from the orien- 
tal name of the game, at least as far back as when the friar Jacobus de Ges- 
so lis wrote his widely read Liber de moribus hominum^ towards the beginning 
of the thirteenth century. The old Romans did, indeed, have a diversion 
styled " ludus latrunculorum," that is, " the game of the little robbers," but 
it had no resemblance to chess except that it was a " brettspiel," played with 
pieces, like many other games. So much for ludus latrunculorum ! Now for 
skdkma^r ! The skdk in this word— which occurs, to our knowledge, nowhere 
but in what may fairly be characterized as the German saga of PiDrek, a story 
told in connection, principally, with localities south of the Baltic — was once 
supposed by some etymologists to be of Hebrew derivation, but only two lexi- 
cologists, so far as we know, Magnus Olafsson, as we have heard, and 
Dr. Fritzner — have ever connected it in any way with the word or game, 
"chess." It is now generally recognized to be, as Dr. Fritzner's etymological 
statement tends to show, a word of Teutonic origin, occurring even in Anglo- 
saxon, although it is lacking among the very oldest Germanic forms. On the 
other hand, the word chess— \t one may here repeat the oft-recorded expla- 
nation - and, consequently, the word skdk (as in 5A:dA:ma^= chess-player), 
which is merely another form of chess — both come from a Persian word 
{shdh — the final h pronounced like a German ch), meaning "king," which 



60 CHESS IN ICELAND 



word is even now a living vocable in Persian, being the title still borne by 
Persia's rulor. Chess and skdk, therefore, signify "(the game oO the king,'' 
and have nothing whatever to do with any robbers— either Latin or Germanic.— 
Another instance of Dr. Fritzner's etymological skill cannot be explained 
with so much ease. Under the somewhat objectionable expression fret- 
stertumdt he reproduces the meaning given to it in the "Index linguae 
gothicfe," of Verelius (1691) — which we have already copied in its proper 
place— and then says (we render literally): — "This explanation is assuredly 
erroneous, and originates in the similarity of the fret^ occurring in the word, 
to the verb freta\ but fret is rather a corruption oiferSy which primarily had 
the signification of vezier, but afterwards took the form of fierge^ vierge^ 
from which was evolved the name of ' queen,' which this piece now bears 
in the game of chess— see A. van der Linde, 'Geschichte und Literatur des 
Schachspiels,' II, 150 ff, compare 157." Thereupon Dr. Fritzner cites the 
Magus saga, and refers the reader to an even more objectionable term fu^- 
ryttumdt^ in relation to the first element of which he has a briefer but sim- 
ilar explication: — '' In fu^ryttumdt the word {fu^rytta) seems to correspond 
to the Latin virgo, French vierge, which, in the Middle Ages, was a common 
appellation for the queen at chess,'* and again he cites V. d. Linde's "Ge- 
schichte" (II., pp. 149 ff. and especially the notes on pp. 150-151). Although he 
does not say so precisely, it is pretty plain that he has got into his head 
what Dr. V. d. Uinde calls, on one of the very pages (150) referred to by the 
lexicographer, "das beruhmte wortspiel mit dor vierge," perhaps originally 
a half playful blunder which has been traced no further back than the year 
1610, seemingly finding its birth in a once popular anonymous Latin poem 
entitled "De Vetula,'* first published at that date. In a day when the science 
of etymology was young, some one else, if not the author of the poem just 
alluded to, ventured to suggest that because the Persian word fers — meaning 
vezier— which was used in the period of Asiatic-European chess as the name 
of the piece standing beside the king— had a certain phonetic and orthographic 
resemblance to the French vierge — meaning "virgin," therefore (a queen, 
too, being a female) the chess people had finally bestowed its present appel- 
lation upon what is now the game's most powerful piece. In other words, 
it was a case of what we call popular etymology, or etymology by incorrect 
assimilation — such as we have two or three times cited in earlier portions 
of the present work. But this is just what the pages of Dr. V. d. Linde's 
work, to which Dr. Fritzner appeals, are devoted to disproving, as he would 
have seen by a closer examination. The use of virgo or vierge^ by a few 
comparatively late writers, as a title for the chess-queen, had nothing to do, 
in any etymological way, with the old Persian name, fers. But, be that as 
it may, no one who compares several of the other Icelandic chess terms 
with those here explained by Dr. Fritzner will have any belief whatever in 
his theory of the afllnity between fers and vierge and the cited Icelandic 
names for certain styles of checkmate, thus strangely glossed by the indus- 
trious Norwegian lexicologist. Chess reached Iceland in the 12th century, 
many generations before virgo (or vierge) was ever used as the name of the 
queen, and many more before any ignorant writer thought of recognizing 
its likeness to fers. After the century of its arrival, there could not well 
have been — so slight did the intercourse soon become— any bond of union 
between continental and Icelandic chess, by means of which this fantastic 



STRAY NOTES 61 



notion could have travelled North. But the very sight of the different words 
which Dr. Fritzner proposes to bring into such close relations will suffice to 
convince the linguistic student of the absurdity of his suggestion, aside from 
its historic impossibility. — Dr. Fritzner's other chess- words are riddari; 
hrokur (under which are cited the modern- Latin roccus of Du Cange, and 
the old French roc from La Carno de St. Palaye*s and Littrd^s dictionaries); 
pe^nia^r (but not pe^), with etymological references to Latin pedes and Old 
French pion ; pe^mdt and pe^smdt ; and uppndm^ which he interprets as 
"removal'' (borttagelse), citing the passage from Sturlunga (IL, p. 105— I^or- 
gils saga skarl^a), and saying that the knight, in the quotation, is placed 
"so that the adversary can take if (saaledes at modparten kan tage den), 
which is as precisely as it can be described without using the proper technical 
term, en prise. 

To these notes on the treatment of chess terms by the compilers of Ice- 
landic dictionaries, or word-lists, extended as they are, something might 
still, very likely, have been added by more careful research, as well as by 
consulting the glossaries published in connection with a good many editions 
of the sagas, and of other ancient Icelandic writings. Of course, there are 
not a few technical words connected with the chess of later periods which 
are found in no printed vocabulary. Some of those of which no lexicogra- 
pher has availed himself— are doubtless preserved in the MS dictionary of. 
J6n 6lafsson (fra Grunnavik), which we shall find frequently cited in another 
place, or in similar inedited collections; others — especially thoso of the 
present day (like hr6kskipti^= cAsiMng^ for instance)— have never been written 
down in any list, whether MS or printed. But the number of words relating 
to chess and its practice which we have been able to gather from well- 
known and easily accessible lexicons forms an abundant proof of the unusual 
part which the game has played in the life and literature of Iceland. More- 
over the many metaphors and proverbial sayings, drawn from the chessboard 
and the movements of its figures, which we have encountered in the courso 
of our investigations, are so many additional demonstrations of the same fact. 

Dr. Van der Linde land the SpUabdk. 

On the very last page (412) of one of his really epochmachende works, 
the " Quellenstudien zur Oeschichto des Schachspiels"' (1881), Dr. Antonius 
V. d. Linde has a brief notice of the diminutive "Spilab6k,'' printed at Akur- 
eyri, on Iceland's northern shore, in 1858, which devotes several of its con- 
tracted pages to chess. He begins by saying that just as the final proofs 
of the "Quellenstudien" reached him, he received, for inspection, from tho 
distinguished German chess-writer and chess-collector, Mr. T. v. d. Lasa, a 
copy of a miniature book of games (miniaturspielbuch) in Icelandic, which 
its owner had acquired with a good deal of effort. He thereupon gives its 
title in full ; » and then follow a description and criticism of the newly 
discovered manual, evidently written with haste, and without having an 
Icelandic scholar at hand:— "Die schachstiicke heissen : kongur, drottning 
eOa fru, byskup, riddar [riddari], hr6kar [hr6kur] e9a filarn [filar], pe9— 
also kein traditionelles S(5gurschach sondern (wie das angeblicho keltische 

^ *'Sp{Ub6k, tern kcnoir a) tpila Domino- eg Goi-tplI, elonlg Skik, Damro o. fl.— 
Kottnn^armabur : J6sef golI«nil9ar Oriuuaoii. — Akareyii 1858. i prenumi^jo Kor^or- og 
AastaromdseiDlslDay bji H. Helgaayol.*' 82*. f. [1], pp. 4-32. (8. SkikUfl, pp. 19-89). 



62 CBESS IN ICELAND 



Bchach der Irliinder und das moderne schach dor Portugiesen) bloss uber- 
setzung aus dem englischen. Man darf zwar nicht aus den regein solcher 
kleinen sammelbucher mil sicherheit auf die gebrS.uche des landes schlies- 
sen, allein es erregt doch ein ungunstiges vorurteil gegen das skandinavische 
StrQbeck, wcnn noch im jahre 1858 nicht nur spieleroien wie peDrifmat'* — 
and here he refers to his extract in the ^'Geschichte des Schachspiels'" (II., 
p. 178) from Eggert Olafsson's notice of modern Icelandic chess— ^'gelehrt 
werden, sondern wenn sogar eine rochade vorgeschrieben wird, wo der 
k(5nig z. b. von el nach bl oder cl, und der roch nach ol oder dl zioht/' 
and thereupon his comments close with a reproduction, between parentheses, 
of the portion of the booklet upon which he bases his final gibe : (A meDan 
ekki er buiQ ab frera konginn og hr6kana tr stab getur mal^ur hr6k8kipt, 
p. e. : skipt um reit viO hr6kinn me6 konginum, })annig, a6 maDur setur 
konginn & riddara eDa byskups reit og hr6kinn & friiar eQa byskups reit, 
eptir pvi hvoru megin hrdkskipti er, paJS er a6 ski^ja, t>egar enginn madur 
er 4 milli t>eii*ra, pyv ekki m& kongur eDa hr6kur st5kkva yflr al)ra menn). 
The mention of Iceland, or Icelandic chess, or in this case, the opening of 
a lilliputian volume printed in Iceland, is the red rag which is always sure 
to excite the critical rage of Dr. V. d. Linde. On such occasions, he assumes 
a sort of ox-eye glare, and proceeds at once to toss the object of his wrath 
high into the air. But generally — if we may turn our metaphor inside out — 
his howls prove to be hardly more real or logical than so many Irish bulls. 
In the instance under contemplation we have him at his worst, and must 
take him into examination in the order of his truly bovine cavils— as they 
turn out to be : 1. He extracts the Icelandic names of the chess figures from 
the book, and then triumphantly shouts: — *'Ah, here is no saga-chess, but 
only the merest translation from the English I '' But does it not occur to 
him that the names of the pieces— so far as they are cited in the sagas- 
are all virtually translations from the English, and are the very same as 
are found in the list he is scornfully holding up f In what saga does he 
find any other f Or, if he means that anybody has declared that piece- 
names, special to the sagas, exist in modern Icelandic chess, when they do 
not — then by whom and where is such an assertion madet Or does he mean 
something else f Those who are familiar with his ways and writings will 
opine from his allusions to the Celtic chess of the Irish, and to the modern 
chess of the Portuguese — references which have such an enigmatic air — 
that he really wishes to say — what he has before asserted elsewhere— that 
the pretence of anything like early Icelandic chess is simply a whim of the 
ignorant. 2. He follows this up by a slur on the Scandinavian Strdbeck— a 
name which nobody but himself has given to Iceland— whereby he desires 
to imply that, although it has been maintained that chess has been cultiva- 
ted in Iceland with something like the devotion with which it has been said 
to be cultivated at the North German village of Strbbeck — **mit seinen sa- 
genhaften starken schachspielern,*' as he himself calls the Strdbeck practi- 
tioners C^Geschichte,*' I., p. 312) — yet any such assumption, as to Iceland, 
is incorrect. But if it has indeed been played much in that island, as ill- 
informed people maintain, then it has been played in an abominable style 
as he is now going to show. 3. There is, for instance, pe9*rifmai ; what — he 
seems to say— does the reader say to that? This word, remarkably enough, 
is not Icelandic at all, but wholly ^'Van-der-Lindian.''— It neither occurs in 



STRAY NOTES 63 



the "Spilab6k," which is under criticism, nor in the reference, which the 
critic himself makes, to the narrative borrowed by himself from Eggert 
Olafsson. The explanation of this fact is that, if it did occur, it would be 
as a linguistic malformation, which no Icelander could possibly be led to 
concoct. Pe^rif (that is to say, in the nominative, pe^rifur) means *' mate 
(by a pawn),'' and tndt (not mat) means **mate,'' so that the two terms com- 
bined would be as if we were to talk in English of a kind of mate called 
"checkmate mate," or '* smothered-mate mate." What Dr. V. d. Linde 
intends to say is doubtless simply pe^rifur^ but the blunder of reading the 
abnormity pe^rifmat in two different places and in two different works, 
where it did not exist at all, betrays a state of mind . hardly conducive to 
sober criticism. But why are we told that it is a " fantastic trick" (spielerei)? 
Why should "mate by a pawn" or "pawn's mate" be any more ridiculous 
than a good many other chess eccentricities, which are to be found uncon- 
demned, in Dr. V. d. Linde's and many other people's works on chess ? Why 
is it a "spielerei," when the "odds of the capped pawn," or "mate with a 
pion coifT^"" is not? Why is it any more of a "spielerei" than a "suicidal 
problem," or a "smothered mate?" Why is it more of a "spielerei" than 
any one of a hundred singular conditional problems set forth in the critic's 
own most interesting chapter on "Das problemschach des mittelalters," » 
for instance, one, in which white "gives check with one pawn and mates with 
another; " or another, in which there is a "mate in three moves, the bishop 
on b 4 moving only when he captures a piece;" or still another in which 
there is a "mate in five moves with the bishop at g 6," and so on. 4., this 
being his most serious insinuation. He observes, preliminarily, that "one 
cannot, with certainty, determine anything about the usages of a country 
from such a small compilation, but nevertheless it excites an unfavorable 
prejudice, when, in the year 1858, not only are such fantastic plays as pe^Ttf- 
mdt still taught, but even a method of castling is prescribed, in which the 
king is moved, for example to b 1 or c 1, and the rook to c 1 or d 1." It 
is true that the mode of castling is prescribed in the little volume, only the 
prescription is exactly in accordance with the rules for castling all over the 
wide world of chess— even in the works written or edited by Dr. V. d. Linde. 
The trouble, as usual, is not with Iceland, or Icelandic chess, or the dimin- 
utive Icelandic manual, but with the critic. At Wiesbaden — the same last 
page of his book is dated at that city — there was evidently no Icelandic 
interpreter, and the critic, unaided, failed to understand the conditional 
phrase which we have underscored in the Icelandic text given— ep<t*r ^t 
hvoru megin hrdkshipti er. We will now render literally the whole extract 
in which Dr. V. d. Linde has discovered such a mare's nest: — "So long as 
neither the king nor the rook has moved from its place, the player can 
castle, that is, change the squares of the rook and the king in such a man- 
ner that he places the king on the knight's [g 1] or the bishop's square [cl], 
and the rook on the queen's [d 1] or the bishop's square [f 1], according to 
the side on which the castling takes place — that is to say, when no other 
piece is between these two pieces, for neither king nor rook can leap over 
other meir/' Dr. V:d. Linde thus reads both his Icelandic and the squares 
of the chess-board wrongly. It is easy, however, to see that in castling on 
the king*s side the king is moved to the knight's square [g 1] and the rook 

^ '*Gescbiciile de8 8ch«olupiel« *', II., pp. fOS-S78. 



64 CHESS IN ICELAND 



to the bishop*8 square [fl] ; and that, in castling on the qfieen*sside^itie king 
goes to the bishop's square [c 1] and the rook to the Queen's [d 1], as stated 
by the Icelandic compiler, who gives the two differing moves of the king in 
one phrase, and the two differing moves of the rook in another — the grouping 
being a little awkward, perhaps, but neither incomprehensible nor erroneous — 
if only a man be sure of his squares and his Icelandic. But Dr. V. d. Linde 
may, possibly, be allowed to stumble as he pleases whenever he gets to Ice- 
land, for in all the rest of the chess world he is pretty sure of his steps. 
Of this "Spilab6k'' —containing the first printed Icelandic description of 
the game of chess and how to play it — though very briefly stated, the rea- 
der will find in the next few pages an account in German, written for the 
"Deutsche Schachzeitung,'* a year or more before Dr. V. d. Linde saw the 
book. It was from that article, in fact, that Mr. V. d. Lasa knew of the 
little work's existence. A re-oxamination, made at the present time, of the 
Icelandic publication shows us that Dr. V. d. Linde, instead of running a 
tilt against fancied facts, might have found, by a little more careftil research 
through the tiny pages, real errors quite worthy of his critical metal. He 
would have ascertained — wc take the misstatements in their order — that the 
compiler makes the ** Persians" call this game **Sedrenz" (it should be written 
in Icelandic ^atraiiz), which he renders by "a hundred difficulties" {hundrai^ 
armoc^ur) in complete ignorance of the actual origin or significance of 
the word ; that he gives to the rook the alternative name of fill (plural 
filar)^ "elephant; " that he asserts that some say that the pawns may move 
two squares at the first move if the player so will (])o UHa sumir pan stokkva 
y/ir einn veil i fijrsta leik cf manni svo synisi) ; that when a pawn has made 
his way to the eighth rank the player may change it for any piece which he 
will of those which have been captured {a^ .sy/, sem kcmur pvi npp, velji .«;er 
flivir pa^ hvern pann niann^ sem hann t*t7/, af pcim^ sem fallnir eru)\ and 
that ho finally sums up several methods of action which some players have 
the custom of pursuing {sumiv taflmenn hafa pa vettju^ nc^ Mta)^ these being: 
1. To consider the last man besides the king which a player has, near the 
close of a game, as uncaptured, unless the other player checkmates at the 
third or seventh move after taking him; 2. To make the ZaWi— the pawn 
which has been moved to the eighth rank along the king's file — exempt 
from capture, like the king himself; 3. To give the king, at his first move, 
the movement of the knight; and 4. Not to allow an interposed piece either 
to guard an attacked piece of his own side, or to give check to the opposing 
king. Let us look, for a moment, at each of these abnormal methods of 
play :--l. In this obligation of the player having the stronger array to bring 
the game to an end at a certain move, we may, perhaps see a forerunner 
of the rule, only of late generally adopted, which compels the player having 
the superior force to effect mate within fifty moves from a particular stage 
of the game, or to consent that the game be regarded as drawn. 2. This 
exemption of a queened pawn from capture has, we believe, never been prac- 
tised except by these exceptional players of Iceland. 3. The believer in the 
force of tradition might trace, in this giving the power of the knight to the 
king at his first move, a faint remembrance of the custom in Lombard chess, 
which bestowed upon the king, when first moving, the privilege of covering 
three squares (going from his own square to the third one from it)— which 
was the germ of the later "castling." 4. As to this idea of not permitting 



STRAY NOTES 65 



an interposed piece to exercise its checking power, we may recall the fact 
that even in Germany they have debated the question:— **Kann ein schacli- 
deckender stein auch ein schachbietender sein V^ According to this theory, 
we take it, the black king might capture a pawn, let us say, even if, by 
doing so, he apparently moved into check from an interposed or "pinned'* 
piece. In the names of the pieces we observe filamir as synonymous with 
"the rooks''— the word being a definite form of /"/W = elephant (plural 
filar). It is notable enough to know that this Arabic word in its literal mean- 
ing, as applied to an animal, existed already, at a very early day, in the 
Icelandic vocabulary ; and, so far as its signification as a chess-word is con- 
cerned, it would indeed be very interesting if only it were cited as an ap- 
pellation given to the bishop, instead of t« the rook, for, except in the very 
oldest Indian, or ante-Persian, form of the game, the rook was never know^n 
anywhere, until in quite recent times, as "elephant;" and such a usage in 
Icelandic chess practice must have been extremely limited, or have existed 
only in the mind of the word-monger, borrowed, perhaps, by him from 
Danish books as an evidence of his learning. But one of the changes which 
the Indian game is supposed to have undergone at the hands of the Persians 
was the transfer of the name of "elephant" from the corner-pieces (our 
rooks) to the pieces which stand beside the king and queen (our bishops). 
Afterwards the Persian (or quasi-Persian) pil was replaced by the cognate 
Arabic fU (elephant), just as it had itself replaced the Sanskrit hasti. And 
this Arabic term for the bishop had a long life, extending through the 
Spanish alfil (=a/, the Arabic article "the," and /W=elephant), Italian al/i7io 
(now alfiere)^ old French aufiii (in modern French fil, by volksetymologie^ 
having become /bu=fool, another form of fol), and Old-English alphin. To 
continue this digression a little farther — the rare and very modern usage, 
which occasionally makes the rook an "elephant" is derived from its name 
in the oft-reprinted and oft-translated Latin poem (1525) of Girolamo Vida 
(who got the term, as a military expression, from Virgil), who calls it elephan- 
tus turritusy or " towered elephant. " This ultimately led to the adoption of 
the title of tower for the rook in the Gorman, Scandinavian and other idioms 
(German, thurm or turm, Danish iaarn^ Dutch kasteeU Hungarian hdstya^ 
modern Greek purgos and tlie alternative English form, castle). The influence 
of Vida's "Schacheis" ("Scacchia Ludus") was so great that in literary 
chess the term "elephant" for rook (instead of for bishop) also sometimes 
occurs, and this is the case in Denmark, whence the knowledge of it, as an 
echo of Vida, found its way into Iceland. Readers of early English chess 
literature will remember, in this connection, in "The pleasaunt and wittie 
play of the cheasts" (1562), which is cited under the name of Rowbothum, 
the phrase, "The rockes some call elephants, carrying towers upon their 
backes, and men within," the idea of which the author obtained from Vida, 
and which was repeated in the first English version (1597) of Vida's work in 
describing the chess-pieces: — ^^ 

Hero footemeu wero and horsemen both, archers, some white, some blaoke; 
Uere elephants that vse to beare a castle on their backe^ 

—The contents of the third section of the little Icelandic book (3. Skdkta/t) may 
be hastily summarized as follows, omitting some matters already referred to: 

«> Seo V. d. Llnde*« "Geschlchte," II., p. 808. 

«> Both tbeao quotations are given in V. d. Lindens '* Geschiehte,** II., p. 181. 

9 



66 CHESS IN ICELAND 



— The chess board ; the names of the chess-figures ; their positions; the law that 
a white corner square shall be at the right hand of each player ; the moves of 
the chessmen ; practice is better than rules; in attacking a king, the player must 
say skdk ! (check!), and it is usual to do the same thing when attacking the 
queen ; there are three kinds of "check" (or "checkmate" or «*game-ending8"); 
1. Simple check, from which the king escapes, by moving, by interposing a 
piece or pawn, or by capturing the checking piece; 2. When a king has lost 
all his men, and is so beset that he cannot move without going into check — 
this is called pa« (stalemate); 3. Checkmate {skdk og mdt), — Checkmate by 
means of a pawn is called pe^rifur^ and is deemed dishonourable to the 
defeated party; glei^armdt ("straddle-mate") is explained as a marvellous 
position, in which the mated king is in one corner of the chessboard, and the 
mating queen and rooks in the other three; and heimamdl (home-mate) is 
wlion the king, still unmoved, is mated on his original square. Jafntefli 
(drawn game) is described, and we arc told that the king's pawn (or the 
king's pawn when queened) is styled lalli^ while leppur signifies **an inter- 
posed piece." Then we learn that valdskdk ("guard-chess") is a mode of 
chcKs-play, in which the men protected by other pieces than the king cannot 
be slain, while in contradistinction to valdshdk the usual mode of play is 
known as drepskdk ("capturing chess"). A roughly-made little woodcut 
of an empty chess board, scarcely five-eighths of an inch wide, and not too 
rectangular in outline, adorns page 20.— We note the following chess-expres- 
sions (several of which arc, however, given elsewhere in the present work); 
reitir (squarcH); menniruir (the men); heldri menu (pieces, as distinguished 
from pawns); drepa (to capture, literally to "slay"); fcvra (to move a piece 
or pawn); hrokskipia (to castle); hrokskipti (castling); leikur (move); mot- 
std^unia^ur (opponent) ; Ocra fyrir (to interpose); taflmenn (players). — As the 
book is now not easily to be found, we reprint the original text of tho whole 
chapter on chess: — 

5. SkaktafL 

SkaktailiO er persiskt n^ uppruna. Nafhi?5 er dregiB af porsiska orliinu: 
"Schach" (uttalast: "Sjakk," en viO ncfnum \^a.7S ''skdk''), er merkir: kon- 
ungur. Persar kalla tall I)etta "Sedrenz," ]^. o. " hundraC armael^ur," af 
fvi menn purfa aR liugwa mikiO um I)aR, og hafa hugann fastan vi6 ]^msar 
kringumHt.'i'(>ur. ViO tatl l)otta pari' aR hafa mikiB athygli og heilabrot, og 
er t)an skemtilog dipgrastytting fyrir pA, som vol kunna, J)are» J)eir leggja 
ekkert i sOlurnar noma o/in.»»gJuna yflr ))vi ai> vci^^a unnir, en hafa eins mikla 
von uni aft verfta hvo frji»gir aft vinna. 

Monn tella a Hvonoliulii taflhorfti, og eru a pvi 32 hvitir 
forhyrntir MmAroitir (»g cinM marglr svartir. 

Myndirnar ofta inonnlrnlr, houi tollt or moft, eru vanalega 

ur trjo ofta rilabclnl. MtM\il polrra oru 8 holdri menn, sinn meC 

hvorju mrttl aft Ktii»rft, nnCnl og tign, og or gangi Jnjirra skipaO 

eptir l)vi. lIJA l»oiin nUnda H mlnnl uiyndlr ofta monn, Kom kallast ;>efl^, og 

or l^olm fylkt fyrir frainan IHna mImmtI. 

Kongurinn or i«*ftMtur. t'ogar hnnn or uiinlnii, or tadlft uti. 
Drottningin ofta Fn&ln or iioxtl umfturliiti hirftl til aft verja ofta valda 
konginn og HioKJa ^ ijandniannlnn. 



I ■ ■ ■ 



■^1 ■ 



STRAY NOTES 67 



BdSir Hr6kamir eSa Filamir ganga frunni nrest aD tign. 

B&8ir Biddaramir eru agsotir li^^smenn til atldgu i byrjun tafls el)a 
pegar fram i ssekir. 

B&8ir Byskupamir jafngilda hartnrer riddurunum og gj5ra mest gagn 
seinast i taflinu. 

Pe8in eru liUljettust, en geta J)6 opt orOi© al^ raiklu liOi, ef feim or vel 
og viturlega beitt. 

Hinum 8 heldri mOnnum er fylkt k yztu reitina a taflborUinu. Svartur 
kongur er settur a hvitan mi8reit og hvitur kongur 4 svartan, hvit fru k 
hvitan raiSreit og svort a svartan, biCir byskuparnir sinn vi5 hverja hliB 
kongs og drottningar, bAUir riddararnir sinn viU hverja hliO byskupanna og 
b46ir hr6karnir k hornreitina. Pe6in, sem eru likt og varnarvirki hinna, 
eru sett k nrestu reitina fyrir framan. 

I^annig er hvorutveggju liOinu fylkt, en pd skal pess ceti^ gostt^ a9* 
hvitur homreitur ^e til hcegri handnr. 

Kongurinn gengur a,h eins k nsesta reit fram og aptur og til hlil^ar og k 
skareiti, en aldrei lengra en k nsesta. I^egar fjandma^ur verTJur fyrir honum, 
getur hann drepiC hann nie5 J)vi a6 taka J)ann mann burtu ur taflinu og fgera 
sig k hans reit, ef kringumstieOurnar meina psib ekki. 

A meOan ekki or buiB a5 fjera konginn og hr6kana ur staU, getur ma5ur 
hrdkskipt, J), e. : skipt um reit vi9 hr6kinn melS konginum, pannig, a© maU- 
ur sctur konginn k riddara eOa byskups reit og hr6kinn k fruar e6a byskups 
reit, eptir pvi hvoru megin hrdkskipti er, J)a9 er a8 skilja, ))egar enginn 
maOur er k milli peirra, pvi ekki ma kongur eOa hr6kur stdkkva yflr aCra 
menn. 

Fruin gengur eins og kongur og gotur hiin k oUum gangi fiiriO um pvert 
og endilangt borOiO, pegar enginn maSur er fyrir og drepur hun pa6 sem 
fyrir verOur k sama h^tt og kongurinn ; af pessu mk rdCa, a9 fruin er liObezti 
madurinn til ad verja eda valda konginn og ssekja k fjandmanninn. 

Byskuparnir ganga ekki noma a sk^roitina. Peir geta fari© svo langt 
sem vill, ef enginn er fyrir, og drepa peir eins, ef menn sjk sjer hag i. Af 
gangi peirra fl^tur, a8 byskup s4, sem stendur k hvitum reit, kemst aldrei 
a svartan, og sd, sem er a svdrtum reit, aldrei a hvitan. 

Riddararnir ganga hvorki beint fram nje aptur heldur hliSskakkt a p4 
reiti, sem eru til hlidar viO nrestu skdreiti, og geta pannig stokkiO yflr aOra 
menn. I^eir eru pvi g69ir til framgongu og til aO raOast ai6 konginum og 
jafnvel mdta hann, pare© enginn madur verCur borinn fyri pk. I^ess vegna er 
raSlegast a6 fcera pa sem fyrst fram, pvi peir geta betur ney tt sin fyrst framan 
af, en ekki er haegt a6 mkia. meD tveim riddurum eingongu seinast i tafli. 

Hr6karnir ganga beint fram og aptur og til hliOar, en aldrei k ski, um 
pvert og endilangt bor?^, ef ekkert er fyrir peim, en p4 drepa peir k sama 
h4tt og sagt er um hina mennina. l^aQ er ekki ra51egt ad bruka pk fyr en 
fram 1 ssekir og tdluvert mannfall er ordiQ. 

Pedin ganga aJS eins beint fram k nsesta reit, en aldrei aptur k bak nje 
til hliDar. P6 Ikia. sumir pau stdkkva yflr einn reit i Qrrsta Icik, ef manni 
svo s^nist. I^au geta eins og aUrir menn drepiO pad, sem fyrir veriJur, en 
aldrei noma pann mann, sem stendur k nsesta skareit. Ef maQur kemur 
peOi upp i borDid hja hinum, eru pad rjettust sk&kldg, ad s&, sem kemur 
pvi upp, velji sjer fyrir pad hvern pann mann, sem hann vill af peim, sem 
fallnir eru, og stendur pk sk madur k sama reit og ped kemur upp k. 



68 CHESS IN ICELAND 



PslJS er ekki hjegt a6 gefa reglur fyrir pvi, hvernig mabur 4 aQ tefla, far paft 
er komi(3 undir hugj36tta J)ess, er teflir, og sefingin ein getur kennt paJS bezt. 

Beztu sk^knienn eru peiv^ som srckja mest & og reyna til aO kreppa pannig 
a9 kongi m6tstd!)umanns sins, ad hann geti ekki bsett ur sk&k, t'vi pk er 
hann mdt. 

Pegar einhver raaBur stefnir pannig k konginn, aS hann eptir gangi 
sinum getur drcpiS hann, ef hann viori ekki feti5 6draepur, segir mal^ur: 
skfik ! af lotningu fyrir konginum til ad lata m6tst6dumann sinn vita, aO 
kongi hans sje hietta biiin, svo hann geti bori© menn fyrir sig e5a fluid. 
Eins er pad venja ad segja til, ef madur setur t friina, svo hinn geti fordad 
henni, cf pad er haegt. 

I^ad er til prenns konar skak : 

1. EinfolJ skak, pegar bfett verdur ur raed pvi ad fsera konginn, bera 
mann fyrir cda drepa pann mann, sem skdkad er med. 

2. I^cgar anriarhvor konganna er biiinn ad missa alia menn sina og 
buid er ad kreppa svo ad honum a alia vegu, ad hann getur ekki komist iir 
stad nema ofan i skak. I^etta kalla menn ad verda eda gjOra pait. I^egar 
svo stendur a, er taflid uti, og sd, sem verdur patt, tapar p4 ekki nema helm- 
ingi af pvi, sem kann ad vera teflt urn. 

3. Skdk og nuit, pogar skakin er svo lOgud, ad kongurinn hvorki getur 
fluid, borid fyrir sig nje drepid nema ofan i skdk, og pa er buid. S4 madur, 
sem borinn er fyrir til ad bceta ur sk&k, er kalladur leppur. 

I^egar mdtad er med pedi, kalla menn pad pecH-if^ og pykir sm&narlegt. 
I^egar kongurinn stendur i einhverju horninu og fruin og hr6kamir verda 
pannig ficrdir ad konginum med pvi ad segja skdk og mkt i hverjum leik, 
ad hr6karnir standa hvor i sinu horni tit fr4 konginum og fruin I pridja 
horninu, hcitir pad gleic^armdt^ og pykir verra en hitt. En smdnarlegast 
allra pykir hid svonefnda heimamdt^ pegar kongur er mdtadur heima i 
bordinu iidur en hann hefur fzert sig um reit. 

i^egar svo or fallid hja badum, ad ekki er hiegt ad mdta, heitir pad 
Jafntefli, 

Sumir taflmenn hafa pa venju, ad lata seinasta mann, er kongurinn hefur, 
vera 6drscpan, nema madur p4 mati i pridja eda sjounda leik eptir ad madur 
hefur drepid hann. Eins Idta sumir to^^ann — ped, sem madur kemur upp i 
bord k kongsreit— vera 6drjepan eins og kong, konginn ganga riddaragang 
i fyrsta sinni, og lata leppinn hvorki geta valdad annann mann nje skikad 

kongi. 

Sumir tetta pannig, ad aldrei sje drepinn madur, pegar hann er valdadur 
af Odrum manni on konginum. I^ad kallast valdskdk, eins og menn til ad- 
greiningar nefna hinn taflsmdtann drepskdk. 

Um pessi dminnstu atridi um taflsl(5gin verda menn ad koma ^er saman 
ddur en taflid byrjar, pareQ opt er undir pvi komid hverjum logum fylgter, 
hvort madur vinnur. • 

A Ghimsey Legend. 

There comes from Iceland a story— said to be a common one' in the 
schools of that country— about a native of the tiny isle of Orimsey, which 
lies directlv under the Polar circle just off the northern coast of the larger 
island. In the summer there are few that traverse the sixty miles of silent 
sea which separate it from the mainland, and in the winter the stormy winds 



STnAV yOTES ^ 



Slid the turbulent waters Rhut it wholly on( from iho worM. For Xho fow 
families who live on the rocks and earn tboir Kub?*iKtenoe hy pAlherinK i\\<^ 
imtherrB of the birds that hauni the precipitous olifN, An<l hy fli«hinR in the 
sorroundinir fieas, has been provi<lod a small church, over which the poorep<t- 
patd iMkstOT in Iceland presides. The ancestors of these ftimilies came to the 
solitary spot, to escApe the c^nsequencx^s of a t^wl. jnvt jiffcr the <lay««» when 
chess had made its way from England to Iceland. It is a widespread heUcf» 
in Iceland, tliat the exiles liave alwa>^ foun<l the pame a jjrreat solace In 
their isolation, and that many of their nnmber have attained ^real skill In 
i» pmetioe. Our story says that a fourteen year old hoy once came with 
faisfictiier. from their home on the lonely isle, to visit the episcopal sc«t of 
Bdlar in Rorth Iceland — in one of those jcrood old years when H<Mar still ha»l 
iit bishopv^ who. with their brother-prelates of the Sonthcrn see of SKAlholt» 
mB.li the .preat di|mitaries of Thnlo, The lad had never been OMtstdc i>f 
Gruniwrr befarc : his manners were consequently rouch, and rcspeot for the 
irraniieoF of Iht world had not been one of the habits he bad acqnh'ctl. tint 
DIM -fcuinr 1**^ hat ieamed. and thai was chess. While the two stooiK with 
iTtifest a ti#f txnm o' th-r biHhnj<^s house, the prelate himself paused thit^tj/h* 
«ifi ^1 U'jflks* tuw iixbh <»T*5ep: the "boy. Beinc repreve<l hy or\o of tho tw - 
^anfOvTi A»» «iiMK • Vnt liiflc wa? thai mant" **The bishop. >imi fool. 
♦tM» tf^^ocKe iPTtvt' n itiearoc-'* *-0U, the bishop, does be play cbc^«i well! 
>^ *r *3*«ffiK: A*» «v9t. l«r OUT paTson if the second-best player in tlrim^ev.*' 
,giM 1-^ 4^»^ ^i^*^ reuKii. waf. repnrred to the bishop, who sent f<>r the 
-A»Trt# mn *t' lrfiii»*^ *-Viiai was It that yon asked in the ct^nrtt** ert 
t»iii«f. ti*t diiffitci-^-. *•] onh- asked one of yon r pe<>ple if \t>n played a 
3e^^ jssstuh if cumt-: for :f yon do. I should like to try one with yon *' It 
vtmn^f^su^ twr ti«*r bmhoj; was not only an excellent chess player. b\it ts\ni\ 
^%nu^ ynrut uf u» suj»erJ'.»ritT to others. Amused at. the boldness im the 
jiimaat' l^ftnrun^ m ordered the chessboarti to be brought anil Us bis afttim 
jfHiffs««sfr. iK\0^s^i'r su^ieuuibed. in three straij?ht pames» to hW y»^nnB oppo 
•wnn -- Vw3f» dit: yuB i«»TB your chess, boy t'* demanded the beatr^n bl^h 
V).. trirt n trt^ wits* ti»ok i:* defeat with episcopal seivnlty. "t''te»o mv 
^$^,u^ atic 11* \0^fyA rs C-r:iii«*y. for in the winter we play \\is\\\ ^rtvlv \\\ 
*ut tin»niffijr tit. «isw: is: inrls." *-I should rather say/* exclaimed the \\\w\\\\ 
:t!fiM o*Mw^- --tiasi 7*»u "^KkzT^ it frv>m the devil, and that von h«ve br^e^^ 
v«r*^«iitiar yw^ ynnr^s!%r -Why. if that be the case, t should be ^\\\y^ 
aiu^ vi* v«sia tut i>iiyjw y<m mention, since I can beat \\\t> par^^n, a^bj th»^ 
^nrvMk, -wrufj » r^sry zofyl and pious, can beat anybody else/' 1'he \\\n\h\\\ 
fsfffitteA, ixx% %*0iA hoiE^r at the lad's reply, invited him \xs \<^w\f^\\\ at M.Mrtv. 
aa-^ Hskijsbtz 2J-1& ^-l^er at other thifijra besides chess, pnt \\\)\s Into tho rathe 
4ru »«e5W»«L i^aer to life, he receivetl a livinir* «ttd became, Hho \\u ,^vH 
|i»^^Mia. a j^^Mt^ ao4 pious priest— quite able to wHhsfattd thr* a^nay^lts oi the 
jrr*«l athr«r«wry. 



r«^ — Tlitw«ghoot the whole of western Europe, \\\\>r\)Sn A \m\M beoU\ 
C)r«jf *« a <b<* at least as early as the tenth cpntnry, thert* \\as pia\e»l» \\a\' 
tawiitdj *7 tJMr higher classes, a household iiante, the Mnr»^peaH ba^^e \\\ 



ft aft •« yj— «• wMa4 d«aan« fur Mittirt Um«» an«l ^mviih'H ti^aM lhi» ^tll)^\ hHi H^i^H 



70 CffESS IN ICELA ND 



which was derived from the Latin word, tabula^ which is likewise the source 
of our common English vocable, "table." The amusement was thus called, 
of course, because, in order to play it, a '* table," "board," or other flat 
surface, was, first of all, necessary. The name usually assumed the plural 
form, indicating that this "table" was divided, either literally or by painted 
divisional lines, into two, that is, into two parts. In Italy this diversion 
was styled tavole; in France and England tables; in Spain tdblas; in Portu- 
gal (supposedly) tabolas ; in Germany zabel(spiel) ; in Iceland tafl (the A 21s 
has already been stated, pronounced like b) ; and in Denniark tavL^ In 
Anglo-Saxon it occurs as tcefel, having an allied verb tceflan^ "to play (at 
tables) " (like the Icelandic verb tefla^ of the same origin), and the compound 
tcefelstan (literally, " table-stone "), signifying a "man (or piece) at tables." 
In Gaelic, as would appear, it was known as taibhleas^ and in Welsh as ta\ol- 
brwdd — the last element the equivalent of the English "board." But there 
is no need of continuing this list; it is sufficient to say that this ludus ia- 
bidarum penetrated into all the countries of the extreme Occident. The 
domain, however, in which it was especially well-known, at the time of the 
revival of letters, was the region which included the Italian and Spanish 
peninsulas, France, and the islands of Great Britain and Iceland, or, in other 
words, the very tract over which chess spread with such comparative rapid- 
ity, after it had once passed from the old Moorish to the Christian provinces 
of Spain. We hoar less of it, in those early centuries, in the lands of the Con- 
tinent to the east and north of the Rhine, but that is no doubt owing to the 
later- developed culture and literature of those parts. 

Abundant as are the allusions to the game in both the poetical and prose 
literatures of the Middle Ages, so little has been written in regard to its 
character and story that there have been few attempts to evolve any theory 
as to its birth-place or birth-time. The citation of it in Anglo-Saxon wri- 
tings proper — in which, of course, there is no authentic mention of chess — 
would indicate that it preceded chess as a European game. Indeed, there are 
some obscure allusions — in what literature survives from those ages of 
obscurity that followed the close of the Roman period, which may possibly 
refer to tables ; and which might almost incline us to believe that the pen- 
insula of Italy was its first European home. We know that the use of dice 
was considered essential in playing the game, and dice, even under their 
modern name, certainly go back to the time indicated — not to speak of the 
fact that, under a difl'erent appellation, they were an important feature in 
certain ancient Roman games. For the etymologists are pretty well agreed 
that from the low-Latin dadus (a corrupted form of the classic participle 

able to devote to it. The story of nard-tables-backgAmmon (if, indeed, we have the right to 
tue that compotite title) It full of tantalising problems awaiting solution ; while an adequate 
reply to the question, "What was hne/atajlf** can only be given by one who Is eoutent to 
delve diligently in many fields, especially, perhaps, in the Celtic. Of the pages which im- 
mediately follow this note none but those which attempt to narrate in brief the probable 
evolation of the game of draughts contain anything which can be regarded as novel. 

^ The word *' Ubies ** (perhaps by reason of its plural form) might come, sooner or latar, 
to be someUmes employed, by uninformed writers, generically— to signify all household games 
played on a table or board, with pieces or figures— that in, which were table-games, or whst 
the Germans mean by brttUpitl*. In this sense It would naturally include chess, and thns 
give rise to some confusion, not very marked, however, except in the ease of the Icelandic 
form tafl (plural tOfl), as we shall note hereafter. 



STRA Y NOTES 71 



(Jam* = " given,'* then •'thrown'') the words rfarfo (Italian), dS (French) and 
die (English) are most probably descended. But, however far back it may 
date, the game of tables certainly makes a frequent appcarencc, especially in 
the Italian, French and English literatures, from before Boccaccio until after 
Shakespeare, and is often so introduced as to show that the writer draws a 
marked line of distinction between it and chess. A multitude of such pas- 
sages are familiar to the chess investigator, and we sliall not attempt to cite 
them all. 

We begin with French mediaeval productions, in which, as Strohmeyer^ 
has observed, the games of chess and tables are often coupled together, 
implying that both were favorites at court and castle. In the '^Chanson de 
Roland" — the work of a Norman trouvdre of the eleventh century — we arc 
told that 

Sur palies blanos aiedent oil chevalier 
As tables Jaent par els esbaneier 
E as etehaes li plos saire e li yieill, 

— the idea hero expressed that chess was better adapted to the wiser and 
elder members of courtly society being of not uncommon occurrence. ^ It 
is found again, for instance, in the poetical romance, of the "Comte do 
Poitiers : " 

Li Oil Juent k V escremir 

A 1' entro deux, por niiex ferir ; 

As tables li conte pal^s, 

Li viel et li sage as eschs. ^ 

The so-called ten-syllable "Geste d' Alexandre "—pretty surely of the twelfth 
century — has a passage describing the slaying of a terrible and savage 
beast, with a hide so huge that a hundred knights could repose on it '* et 
so juent as tables, as esches et as dds" (*'and play at tables and chess 
and dice").*" In that vast metrical production of the thirteenth century, the 
''Roman de la Rose," ascribed to Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meung, 
and begun before 1260, we are again told : 

Do gieus de dez, d' escliez, de tables, ^ 

where, as elsewhere, the mention of dice, apart from tables, is warranted by 
their employment in other ways than in connection with that diversion. 

^ Tbo oasay of Dr. Fritz Strohmeyer, ^'Das tcliachsplel im Altfranzdsitchen," formR a 
part of the volume of ^'Abhaudluugen** dedicktcd by his disciples — all scholars of note — 
"Uerrn prof. dr. Tobler zur feler seiner fOnfaudzwanzigjahrigen th&tigkelt als ordentlicher 
professor an der universitat Berlin** (Halle a. S. 1895), in which the essay with which we 
are eoneerned fills pages 981-403. It to, of course, altogether invaluable as regards the game 
of chess, and incidentally is of much interest for the story of tables a« well during the pe- 
riod treated. But a special paper on the latter game, equally thorough, equally acute, would 
be a great boon to investigators. The other countrius of tbo west are all fields — untllled, or 
comparatively nntilled, so far as chess, and tables, likewise, are concerned — demanding la- 
bearers as skillful and untiring as Dr. Strohmeyer. 

^ Chanson do Roland (ed. Michel, Paris 1837), viii, 1. 16-17, p. 6 ; and ed. Gautier, 15^ 
ed. (Tours 1881), v. 110-112. 

"" <<Roman du Comte de Poitiers** (ed. Michel, Paris 1831), p. 57. 

^^ Bartsch, ''I^a langne et la litt^rature franraises" (Paris 1887), p. 818, 1. U-Sl (accord- 
ing to Dr. Strohmeyer), or in *' Li Romans d* Alexandre" (ed. Michelant, Stuttgart 1816), 
V. 81 fr., p. 898. 

M •< Roman do la Rose *' (ed. Michel, Paris 1864), p. 835. 



72 CHESS IN ICELAND 



Tho writer probably refers to what used to be called the "casting of mai>w,"» 
being, very likely, the same as la mine which greatly puziles Dr. Van der 
Linde in his **Geschichte" (II, pp. 159-160). "Throwing of mains'' as a 
game, we hear of at fashionable Bath as late as the year 1700. "'^ Proven- 
cal literature, in the romance of " Gerard de Rouissillon,'' affords almost 
the same phrase : " D* eschays sab e de taulas, des joxs de datz,** also, as 
we see, including the dice.'* Similarly, it is said of Duke Robert of Nor- 
mandy, father of William the Conqueror, 

De seeir aa jea volontiers 
Eflteit 11 dax tot coetamera ; 
Table* amont, eschds e des, ^ 

with which Strohmeycr compares a like expression from the " Roman de 
Rou '* of Robert Wace ; 

Kichart sotit en daueis [i, e, Icelandic] e en normant parler.... 

L' altroi Boat e le suen bion prendre e daner, 

Une ohartre sont lire e lea parz deviaer. 

Lt pero r oat bicu fait e daire e doctriner : 

D' eaclies seat o des tablei boji compaignau mater, [t. e. mate]. 

This is not the only time that, for the sake of rime or through ignorance, 
these minstrels talk of mating at the game of tables (as well as at chess). 
Nor is this the only passage in the "Roman de Rou*' which alludes to 
tables. In the second volume of the same edition we find these four lines, 
the beginning of an anecdote: 

Li dues ama gioas conaenables. 
Dedait d* esches, gaaln de tables, 
Vn iar se seeit al tablier, 
Eutre lal e un cboualicr 

the story terminating, some forty-five verses later, with another mention of 
the "tablier'' or table-board: 

Li duca fist le cors remuur 
E le tablier roua osier." 

Tlicso lines arc likewise cited by Madden, in his " Historical remarks on 
the introduction of the game of chess into Europe " (1832, p. 283), from a 
British Museum MS of Robert Wace's metrical romance. In the somewhat 
later "Ficrabras" (though far earlier than its earliest fourteenth century MS— 

'^ Main, in tbis loiise, i» the ordinary French " main " (= baud), and Is used hero, like 
the corresponding Ruglish word, as a technical gaming torm, like a ''hand at cards,** ''a 
good whist hand,** and so on. A "main,** in Anqlo-Freuch is a ''hand at dice,** and the 
"throwing of mains** is casting dice to sec which thrower will make the better or winning 
''hand.'* The word is not to be confounded with meipte^ which occurs in early English 
phrases relating to chess, and perhaps to other games, in tho sense of "men** (pieces). 

^ Ashton*s "Social life in the reign of Queen Aune ** (London 1882), IL p. Ill — quot- 
ing from an old pamphlet, the title of which wo give later. ^ 

^' "Qiratz de Kossilho*' (ed. Konrad Hoffmann, Berlin 1855), v. 4282 ff. ; see likewise 
"Qirard de Roussilon** (transi. de Meyer, Paris 1884), section 921. 

" Benoit, "Chroulques des dues de Normandie,'* v. 115 95-8. 

^ "Roman de Rou [=RoIfJ** of Wace (ed. Hugo Andresen, Heilbronn 1879), I., p. 108, 
lines 1762 ff. and II., pp. 129-5 lines 2399-42 and 2986-7. 



STRAY XOTES 7^^ 



goin^ back probably lo nearly or quite the twelfth century) wo are told of 
souie of the paladins that 



I j |*luiaeiir root a» tmhlu et as eadvm joer. 



T* 



while that other chanson de geste, '-Parise la duchesse/* which is from the 
thirteenth century, says of Hugo, the son of Parise : 

Pnit aprist il as tables et a eacbas joer 

II n'a borne en oest monde qui I'eu p^nst mater, ^ 

— mating (mater) again applying, if we take the sense literally, both to ta- 
bles and chess. Dr. Strohmeyer has another passage of the same character 
from the romance of "Aiol ct Mirabel" (a tale having a quasi connection 
with the Icelandic '*Elis saga"), which is almost unique in this romantic 
literature in condemning the practice of the game of chess; "as eskies no 
as tables, fieus, ne ju^s," '^ being the advice of a father in taking leave of 
his son. From a British Museum MS of the "Uoman do Tristan" (rcg. B. A. 
xviii, f. 190 b.)— the original of the Icelandic Trist rams saga — is quoted by 
Massmann, in his " Geschichte des mittelalterlichcn schachspiols " (183y, 
p. 61), a phrase in which it is stated of the hero that: 'Ml scout tant dcs 
eschez ct des tables que nul ne I'en peult macter [=matej." Bartscli, in 
his already cited ''Langue et litt^erature fran^aises," extracts from the story 
of the sexually transformed Blancandin the following triplet : 

Li latlB«n par fa t^t SAgus 
Qa*; bien I'apriat de toa l«ji;(af^e« 
D'cakea, dea tablet et Uea des, ^ 

in which wo again have the dice as a third amusement. Of passages in ' 
which chess is not mentioned we have an example in the old Belgian chron- 
icle by J. d'Outremeuse, styled, we believe, the "Myreur des histors" (I. 
p. 351), where we are informed that '*Toudis prendoit delectation au jeux 
de taubles,"' (where it would appear from the form "jeux," as if the word 
were used generically). Ducange, in his great lexicological work (sub ///- 
bula)^ refers to a I^tin document dated 1^5 — originating in France and 
seemingly theological in character — in which the canonical view of jilayin; 



'A? 



7< Itomanee of •* Flerabra. " (puM. hj Kroe)>er and Senrob, VArit I860), p. «8 ; aad in 
the earlier edition (ed. Gaetsard, Parii IStO), aUo p. $8, line fUOO. 

» *• Pari»e la dorhe«.e, ehauion de gette " (je ^d., by F. Goeiwd and U F^irrbey Pa- 
ris 1860), 1. ««6-7, |.. 90. ^' 

« '» Aiul ct Mirabel and Klie de «t. Gllle '» (ed. W. For»t«r, IIeiU,roan IS7«-8t) v i.r, h 
Dr. Strohmeyer, In a foot-nwte referring to thi« cx.-erpt, gi«i^» that in [>V*eth'M erHl..«| 
analysis of 'Le Koman eu prose de TrisUn" (Paris 1801), s^eUon 481, ih^re is an esUmat*. 
of TrIsUn as a chessplayer, bat on vxamiaing I^liaths worlc (pp. 3.13.W4 w., iln.i that the 
esUuate is made In two lines. Tristan and hU companion, Brunor-the former i M-o«.,5to- 
hare been talking about ▼ario«s thlDf*. " P,u la conversation, '' ,.,, i./n^tb -oin;«ai„ , 
bis summary, ♦' lournc sur reseriae ct le jea d'Arhec*. et Tan et 1 a^jtre •« \\^,nx '^^^ " 
maitres daus ces deux nobles arl«.** "^ 

" This will be found in Bsrtsch, p. i70: Ur. HWibmmy'.r r>-f.r* v, »«^**,»44- 
by MIehelant, Paris 1867). t. M ff. - BlaacMdi. • i, .u ^y^^.^, v' *;^. ^^., .^^^ ,, J' 
tare, " TrisUn de Nanteoll ' ' — wlikh has aotLiag u, ^, «rit« -^ ^,,^, v :- - ^ . *^ 
the "Tristrams saga," altboagk b»tb bear la rrci^h to. « ^^^ ** '*"' 

on the provldenUal •*.!«•♦ x»Bg '' of l»ls»Raa<iM w,^ u«* '^^..^^ ^^„ 
candln**) will be fouud iu KLr^.iofrr V/rvj^ s ' ft**^.* «>, •jrvj^* *,J^ 
K^idlo Goria, Torino lb88>, i>. 171. 



***** ^- '••'•-"— ♦^ ,^0^ 



'' 4- 



*•**■* 



74 CHESS IN ICELAND 



at games is set forth : " Non possit, nee debeat ludere.... ad aliquot ludum 
taxillorum, excepto ad scacchos et ad tabulas " — An immunity not always 
accorded to tables, but frequently granted to chess. 

In early English the game of tables plays nearly as important a r61e as 
in early French — during those days when there were Norman courts on both 
sides of the Channel, and while much of the old Norman spirit and taste 
still remained. As has already been observed, chess could hardly have been 
mentioned in Anglo-Saxon writings — certainly not until the years imme- 
diately preceding and during the transition to the modern idiom — the pe- 
riod which used to be styled ''Semi-Saxon.'' But it is only necessary to 
consult the dictionary of Bosworth and Toller (Oxford 1882),^ to learn that, 
on the other hand, tables was popular enough when the old dialect was still 
spoken. As usual among the lexicologists the rubric Uefel exhibits a lack of 
technical research — the compilers giving up the task of investigation at the 
outset, saying: "What was the precise nature of the games, to which this 
word and related forms are applied, does not appear ; some of the references 
below imply that games of chance are meant" — and then Tacitus and the 
Germanic love of gaming are lugged in, in close imitation of GuCbrandur 
VigfusRon, whoso classic allusion we have already cited. The most impor- 
tant Anglo-Saxon references are those to the w^ell-known Exeter MS (Codex 
Exoniensis), a collection of Anglo-Saxon verse given to the library of Exe- 

^ This revised edition of the old, and, for iU day, invaluable Bosworth of 1838, also 
remarks sub voce "tsefeP* that **In Icelandic, tafl is usud of chess or draughts;*' this Is not 
correct, for however it may stand with chess, it is certain that the Icelandic tajl was never 
employed with the meaning of draught*. Nor can the closing statement of the same 8«>ntence, 
*' the Danes In Kngland seem to have played chess,'* be reriflcd. This latter error if akin 
to one made by Brand in his '^ Topular antiquities of Great Britain " (London 1849, II. 
p. 863): — ''The chequers, at this time [abont 1809] a common sign of a public-house, was 
• originally intended, I should suppose, for a kind of draught-board, called tab!es, and showed 
that there that game might be played.*' Of course, there is no such relationship as is here 
Implied between the games of "tables" and ^'chequers'* or " draughts "— as will hereafter 
be more fully noted. — A technical word cited by the new Bosworth - from a gloss — Is '*cyn- 
ningstan on tsefle, pir^tu." This " conning-piece," as the later authorities explain It, was 
a device to preclude deception by the dice-thrcwer. The deflnltlun pirguM (or pyrgua) is the 
Greek sivQ-fOi (tower, burg) in a Latinised form, having the sense of the pure Latin /HttlliMi 
(dice-box), and was so used on account of the tower-like shape of the dice-box (for casting). 
Among the Greeks tliemselves this word apparently never had any such technical meaning, 
Indicating that the dice-box was unknown to that people. The ** cyuniogstan," as we are 
led to infer by the Anglo-Saxon lexicologists, was so constiucted, or placed, that the thrower 
could, by no trick of band, decide the result — the word really signifying the *^ knowing- 
piece," or the piece which makes something kncwii. This instrument is described — In his 
note on Roman dice — by Stewart Culin, In his remaikablo and unique work ** Chess and 
playing-cards" (Washington 1898, p. 832), thus: *< Iii order to preveut cheating, dice wore 
cast into eouieal beakers (pyrgtUy turricuJa)^ the interior of which were formed into steps" 
— down which it was expected that the dice would tumble and their movements thus be heard 
after they could no longer be controlled, in any way, by the thrower. This would seem to 
Imply that the " cyn ningstan ** stood on or near the board— aliuough the phrase, on tatfi* 
in the original gloss, would probably be best rendered by "at tables, " that iv, a piece or 
Instrument at the game of tables, as we say, " the rook (is a p'rce) at chess." CuIIn goes 
on to note that "A parallel to this [usage of the Romans] is found in the Siamese back- 
gammon, taka^ where the dice are thrown into the krahok,^* Ail this however, appears to 
be capable of a simpler interpretation. Dice are still sometimes cast by hand, each thrower 
taking the two or three dice In his hand and then, by a motion of the arm, letting them 
fail out — prom'.senonsly, as one might say— upon any flat surface. This is usually done while 
standing, the dioe falling upon a counter or table. Quito likely this was originally the an- 
cient method of throwing dice at tables (or similar dice-employing game*), illustrations In 



STRAY NOTES 75 



ter Cathedral by the city's first bishop, Leofric, and in which it is still pre- 
served. It has been edited by Thorpe (1842), and again, in part, by Gol- 
lancz (1895).'''^ Among the excerpts drawn, with varying orthography, from 
this anthology, in lexicons and elsewhere, are 

Sarobift hroed-tcefle, 
Snrobift gewittig. 

the first line of which Gollancz renders "One is expert at dice;'* "Dryten 
droleji sumum tcefle crceft *' (" skill at tables," Thorpe, p. 311) ; and thereafter : 

Hy twegen sceolon ^ 
Ttefle jmsittan 

("these two shall at tables sit,'' p. 345). Four or fiya lines farther on we 
find the expression hond tceffesmonnes ("the hand of the player at tables"). 
The only other recent Anglo-Saxon lexicological work— duo to English schol- 
arship—beside the two editions of Bosworth, is Street's "Student's dictionary 
of Anglo-Saxon " (Oxford 1897) — an unpretentious, but, in many respects, 
useful work. The compiler, however, repeats the old blunder of connecting 
tcefel with chess, and like his predecessor gives three significations to the 
primitive noun, namely: a game; a die; and a man, or piece. He has, like- 
wise, the derivatives tceflan {tceflian), "to gamble" (or rather, if we are 
not mistaken, "to play at tables"); tceflere ("player"); tceflung ("playing"), 
and the adjective tcefle ("fond of playing tables"). The only compound is 
tcefelstan, rendered "die, or piece used in game"— which is even more un- 
satisfactory, than anything that precedes it. The larger dictionaries cite 
instances of the use of tcefel (and its derivatives) from vocabularies or glos- 
saries—earlier and later — like that compiled by the abbot yElfric, styled 
the grammarian, who flourished not far from the year 1000 — a generation 
or more before bishop Leofric. On the whole, from a very superficial exam- 
ination of the more accessible sources, one gets the idea that the game of 
tables was pretty well known in England during the tenth century, and 
possibly oven before— which is a good deal more than two hundred years 
earlier than we hear authoritatively of any chess-playing in that region. 

old codices BtrvDgthenfngf this sappoiUIon. In the course of time It woald be found that 
knavish-minded people acquired the knack of causing the dice to He as they wished by an 
adroit use of their fingers — a sort of literal prestidigitation. Then, as a remedy or safe- 
guard agalost this, would be invented the dice-box, as we now know It, In which the thrower 
had to shake the dice so that the rattling could be heard before casting them ; It was of 
such a form too, that there was little chance of digital tricks ; and It was also tower-shaped. 
This looks very much like the kernel of the matter, In which case all the reit of the story 
and comment would be largely a myth evolved by the lexicographers. — The throwing of 
the dice was an Important action in all kinds of gaming Into which dice entered ; hence, In 
one of the Celtic Idioms at least, a verb meaning "to throw or cast** appean, if we may 
believe the dictionary -makers, to have been formed out of the Latin tabula^ from ita sense 
as the appellation of a dice-game. The dietlonarlea likewise say that the Anglo-Saxon tas/el 
sometimes had the meaning "die" or "dice.** But, as we have hinted, such statements must 
be received with due caution since they may well result from the laok of technical knowl- 
edge on the part of the compiler. When we see an indefinite definition like this: "a die 
or piece In a game,'* we may generally assume that the writer knows nothing about the 
game of which he Is s>eakiog— -and such definitions are very frequent. 

^ Thorpe's edition (like all his work) was excellent for lU time ; that of Gollanes has 
remained unfinished for half a decade. 



76 CHESS IN ICELAND 



Earliest, perhaps, of all the occurrences of the word "tables," in what 
may be looked upon as English literature proper, is that in the celebrated 
rhymed legendary story of Britain known as the "Brut," from the mythical 
"Brutus the Trojan" (the fabled founder of the newer Troy, which is Lon- 
don), whose name, in the crude philology of that age, was connected with 
the word "Briton." This production is commonly regarded as "the first 
great piece of literature in Transition English." Great it certainly is, if 
measured by the number of its verses, which are upwards of thirty thousand 
— those early bards being truly epic in their fertility. Layamon*s» "Brut," 
as it is termed from the name of its writer, is a version of the Anglo-Norman 
"Roman de Brut,"— by that Jersey poet whom we have just quoted and 
who is usually designated as Robert Wace — which was itself a versified 
paraphrase of the Latin "Historia Britonum" of Geoffrey of Monmouth. 
Layamon composed his poem, as it would seem, not long subsequent to 1200. 
The second or later of the two differing forms in which it has come down 
to us, can hardly be more recent than the fourth decade of the century. It 
was printed by Sir Frederic Madden in an edition of high merit, ^t The ref- 
erence to "tables" occurs in verse 8133, which reads in the earlier MS: 

Snmraen pleodon on tceuelbrede, 

while, in the later, the last two words become mid tauel, that is, "Some 
played at the tableboard (at tables)." This, it must be remembered, is a 
generation, or a generation and a half, subsequent to the first known men- 
tion of chess in Great Britain by Alexander Neckham (1180), and chess must 
have by now got to be pretty well acclimatized, side by side with tables, in 
the courts, castles, cloisters and schools of England, and even among the 
well-to-do burghers of the groat cities. Next in time oomes the romance of 
"Sir Tristrem," with which we have had already something to do in the 
earlier pages of this volume. It was doubtless in existence before the close 
of the last quarter of the thirteenth century. In it occurs, as will be re- 
called, the usual coupling of tables and chess (verse 1277) : 

His liarp, his cronde wiis rike. 
His tablet, bis chess he bare. ^ 

Contemporary with the author of "Sir Tristrem" was Robert of Gloucester, 
who ceased to write before the following century began. The work of which 
he is the reputed composer was a rhymed chronicle of England somewhat 
like the "Brut," and like numerous other histories in verso produced in the 

^ Lajamon ii an Initanee of the dprivatlon of a personal name from the official title. 
The word is Identleal with the familiar leelandie Wgmadur ("lawman'*). The poet doubt- 
less filled the position of a Judge, or Jastieo of the peace, or possibly sheriff. 

"^ Published by the Royal Society of Antiquaries, Loudon 1»47, iu 3 volumes, following 
the same society's text (by Thorpe) of the Rxetor Anglo-Saxon codex. 

^ We have heretofore cited the noted edition of Walter Scott, but the latest treatments 
of the text by that master of Knglish and Icelandic, Rugen Kdlbing, (Heilbronn 188S), and 
by Q. P. McNeill (SeotUsh Text Society, Edinburgh 1886) are of course characterised by 
more modem philological methods. Ur. McNeill follows Scott in ascribing the authorship of 
the poem to Thomas of Breildoaae (about 1S70). 



STRAY NOTES T7 



lands of the Occident in that period of awakening. In it he makes Arthur's 
knights amuse themselves 

Wy)> pleyinge at tablet o)>or atte chckere [chessboard]. ^ 

But another historical writer — "for many years that central figure of En- 
glish learning/* as Stubbs styles him— John of Salisbury, has a much earlier 
allusion to the game under the name of tabula (singular). He wrote in Latin, 
and, besides his historical and biographical productions, indited a treatise 
called the ** Polycraticus," in which he attacks the vices of the court, and 
it is in this— in a list of ten games then prevalent — that his allusion to 
tables is to be found. The "Polycraticus*' was completed before 1159.8^ Of 
somewhat uncertain date is our next work, *'Guy of Warwick" the most 
popular of all the old English metrical tales. The passage referring to ta- 
bles (as so often, with an accompanying mention of chess also) begins with 
line 3175 of the codex known as the Auchinleck MS ; ® 

luto I>e chanmbcr go we bnyo, 
Among ]>e maidens for the playc ; 
At tablet to playe, & at chos, 

the citation preceding a description of a chess-game. In another MS. (verse 
3030 tr.) wc have the lines given as follows : 

Go vre now to chaamber same 
On some maner to make ts game 
To the chessos or to the tablet. 

The great dictionary of Dr. Murray and his associates quotes from the 
"Cursor Mundi,'' which is a collection of homilies in rhyme ascribed to 1300, 
a fragmentary passage : " I ha ne liked.... til idel games, chess and tables/" ^ 
The Oxford dictionary accompanies it by a similar citation from the "Hand- 
ling Sin," a rhymed version (finished about 1328), made by Robert of Brunne 
(or Robert Manning), of the "Manuel des Peschiez" [p6ch6s], a French work 
by an English writer, William of Waddington. The stories— sermon-like in 
character — are not dissimilar to those which a greater pen afterwards told 
in tho *' Canterbury Tales." The excerpt is 

Take fiir]>e the chesse or }>e tablet. ^ 

The chief prose production which remains to us from this dawning period 
of our early literature is that morality (or, as some one has called it " di- 
vinity"), the "Ayenbite of Inwyt " (i. e. the "Remorse of Conscience"), a 
translation into Kentish English by a Canterbury friar, Dan Michel (a na- 
tive of Norgate, Kent), of " Le somme des Vices et des Vortus," which was 
written, it is said, for the use of the French King Philip III, by another 
friar, Fr6re Lorcns (Laurentius Gallicus). The sentence, as given by Mur- 

^ Tho psHa^te If cited bj Mfttsner, "Altengliacbe ipraebproben/* 1. 1, p. t45 (foot-notes). 

^ The complete works of John of Salisbury hare been edited bj J. A. Qlles (Oxford 
1848). 

^ This was the MS nsed by Zupltsa, and the qnotation will be found in his "Romance 
of Guy of Warwick,*' edited for the Barlj Text Society (London 1883), I. p. 184. 

*" Rdlted by Morris for the Early Bnglish Text Society. 

" The " Handling Syne ** Vas edited by Fnmivall for tho Roxburgbo Club la 186S. 



78 CHESS LY I GEL A ND 



ray, 88 is "Kueade [Wicked] gemones [games], ase byep pe gemenes of des 
and of tables,'" in which the author seems to exclude chess from the games 
which he regards as sinful. But in a later place he utters himself in a dif- 
ferent spirit: "Me dep manye kueades ase playe ate ches oper ate tables.'" 
In the latter half of the 14th century, as is supposed, was composed the vast 
"Gest historiale of the destruction of Troy,*' its fourteen thousand verses 
made up from the popular **Historia Trojana'' of Guide Colonna, who again 
is said to have stolen his compilation from the writings of the chronicler 
Benoit, whom we have previously mentioned. But what the unknown En- 
glish rhymester says is as follows (the dialect is North English) : 

Mony jennies were bcgoDnen pe grete for to soIab. 
The cliekker was cboisly l>ere chosen )>o first, 
The draghtes, the dj-se, and other dregh [todions] gaiimes, 
The tableSt the top, tregetre also....^ 

where the author seems, like various writers we have cited, to set chess 
above other board-games, and to likewise exempt it from the charge of 
tediousness, which he makes against draughts and tables. But without 
^ continuing our researches among the English writers of these pioneer cen- 
turies we come down to Chaucer, who, in one of his earliest poems, the 
** Book of the Duchess *' (line 51), says : 

For me thoghte it better play 

Than playe either at ohesse or tablet: 

and again in the "Franklin's Tale"— one of the Canterbury stories— the 
poet has 

Thoy danncen and they playen 
At ches and tablet.^ 

A writer on life in the 16th century^* has a mention of tables drawn from 
some family archives, which is noteworthy because the board, owing to its 
division into two parts, is spoken of as " a pair." The original orthography 
is here preserved — the omission of the word of being evidently only ac- 
cidental : "Willim Jones proveth Mr. Darell and my ladye to sett y or iij 
hours together divers times in the dyning chamber at ffarley with a pair 
[of] tables between them, never playing, but leaning over the table and talk- 
ing together." The second word table, used in the singular, apparently 
refers to the "table" upon which the board for playing "tables" was 
placed. There is a quaint volume, of the same period, in which the writer 
makes a character say : " Well ; now, I perceiue by you, that table-playing 
and chess-playing may be vsed of any man, soberly and moderately." ^ 

«* See the edition of Dan Michers "Ayenbite** by Morris (rx>Ddon 1866), p. 46, and f«r 
the other passage, p. 52. 

^ See the edition of this bulky production made for the Early English Text Society by 
Panton and Donaldson (London 1869-74), p. 64. 

^ It is in this tale that Chaucer indicates a certain amount of knowledge of Alfonso the 
Wise, the one royal writer on chess. He alludes to the ** tables Toiletanea** (that is, *' tables 
of Toledo*'), which were astronomical tables by the wise Spanish king, who left his mark on 
the medieval science of star-gazing, as on so many other things. 

** See Hubert Hall's <' Society in the Elisabethan Age" ([.ondon 1886, app. il, Darrell 
Papers). 

"* The rer. John Northbrooke's *' Treatise on dicing, dauneing, vain playe" &e. (London 
1576). The book was several times reprinted, the edition of 157U having a more explicit 



STRAY NOTES 79 



Shakspeare, in whom technical blunders are rare, shows that ho was famil- 
iar with the mode of playing tables, when he sarcastically says of Boyet 

This ia the ape of form, monsiear the nice. 
That when he plays at tables, chides the dice 
Id honoarable terms. ^ 

Here the dramatist properly uses dice in the plural (as two, or three, were 
employed at tables). In the *' Winter's Tale'* (iv. 3) he has both (die and dice), 
the singular form being of very rare occurrence in any earlier writer. The 
citation we have given is a sufficient indication that "tables,'' as the name 
of a game, was still well understood in the closing years of the 16th cen- 
tury. In the very first year of the 17th, was issued a satirical tract in verse, 
'* Letting of humours blood," a passage from which is reproduced by Thomas 
Wright in an essay of which we shall soon have more to say, as follows : 

An honest vicker, and a kind consort, 
That to iho alehouse friendly would resort, 
To have a game at tablet now and than, 
Or drinko his pot as soonu as any man. 

Thomas Dekkcr, the dramatist and satirist, has at least two references to 
the game, under its old appellation, during the first quarter of the century. 
The name even lingered hero and there to a much later period. Two gene- 
rations after Skakspeare's employment of it, the diarist, Pepys (1665), could 
write: — "I walked.... to my Lord Brouncker's, and there staid awhile, they 
being at tables ;" but in a sixpenny pamphlet entitled : "A step to the Bath 
with a character of the place," printed anonymously a generation later (in 
1700), which is, however, supposed to be the work of Ward, one of the so- 
cial heroes of the once so fashionable English watering-place on the Severn, 
and from which we have already indirectly quoted, there occurs a list of 
names of games: — "From hence we went to the "Groom, Porters," where they 
were a-labouring like so many anchor-smiths, at the oaks^ back-gammon, 
tick-tack^ Irish^ basset and throwing of mains,"'' Here we have both " back- 
gammon" and "tick-tack," but "tables" was evidently growing obsolete. ^ 
The two most modern instances to be found of the use of "tables" are in- 
teresting as containing the technical-term "back-game." The first is in 
the "Non-Juror" (1716) of the dramatist, Colley Gibber:— "A coquett's 
play with a serious lover, is like a back-game at tables, all open at first; " 
and the second is in Mrs. Barbauld's letters of Richardson (published in 1804, 
but the passage dates from 1753) : "I must now, as they say at tables, endeavor 
to play a good back-game."^ After this, so far as written evidence is 
concerned, the word tables, as the title of a game, passes out of the domain 
of current English speech. Possibly the earliest published work which plainly 

title: ''A treatise wherein dicing, daunciug, vaine plait-s or enterludei, with other pastimes &e. 
commonly v««d one [sou] the sabbath dales, are by the worde of God and auncieut writers 
roproued." The author styles himtelf ''minister and preacher of the worde of God,** and 
ail his publications bear the same motio on the title-page; **Spiritus est vicarius Cbristi in 
terra. " 

"' '* Love's labor loU," act v., ao. 3. 

"* See the citation of Ashton's "Social life,** p. 72, with an allusiou to ** throwing of 
main^.*' 

^ "Correspondence of Samuel Richardson" (London 1804), IIL, p. 68. 



80 CHESS IN ICELAXD 



indicates the beginning of the period of exclusion is Cotgrave*8 French-En^- 
liKh dictionary, which was first issued in 1611 and lastly in 1673. He uses 
the Kngiish terms "backgammon*' and "trictrac," but ignores '** tables,** 
although he employs the French word more than once, even giving a va- 
riety of the French "tables," known as "tables rabbatues," which he ren- 
ders by "the Queen's game, doublets." The very oldest lexicographical 
appearence of the game "tables" is, perhaps, in a vocabulary dating back 
to the early days of the i5th century, which is preserved in the British 
MiiKCum. Among the English name of games {noniina ludorum) there given 
an gloKHCs to tliu Latin terms, are the following:— Latin scaccus^ English 
"chcKse;" Latin talus alea^ English "dysc;" Latin tabella {tabelle t = tabeilct)^ 
Kngiish "tabulles"— a form much resembling that adopted in one of the Celtic 
idioms— and Latin scacarius, English, "chekyr." English students of words, 
from llrst to last— from this old glossary to Cotgravo — have thus cited and 
treated the name of the game for three centuries and a half. 

In next looking at Italy, and the references to the game of tables in the 
Hpeech of that peninsula, we shall have to begin with Ducange*s laborious 
work. He has a rubric: " Tabula^ seu Tahularum ludus^ vel alearum, alveo- 
luK, in quem tessnr.e jaciuntur," which opens with the names of many clas- 
sic writers (Isidor, Martial, Julius Africanus and others less known). He 
then cites the early statutes of some Italian cities (Pistoia and Vercelli 
among them), but without giving any dates. Mostly later references — be- 
sides soiue that we have noted in previous pages — are to a history of Jeru- 
salem ("Ilistoria llierosolimitana," lib. viii) by Kobertus Monachus, being a 
hiHtory of the first crusade dating from the twelfth century ; the writer, 
however, calls the game (if he indeed means "tables") alece, and follows it 
by a mention oi' scaci (ciicss) ; and to the "Constitutiones" (chap. 8) of the 
Emperor Frederick 11 (1194-1250) — issued in his capacity as king of Naples 
and Sicily, as it is well to remember. Finally Ducange lets us know that 
tliero is a late Latin verb tahlizarc^ meaning "to play at tables" ("tabula 
ludere,") and he cites a passage from the "Constitutiones" of Julian Ante- 
cessor (115. cap. 439) : " Nccjue episcopus, necjue presbyter.... neque alius 
cujuscunquo religiosi consortii vel habitus constitutur iablizare audeat, vel 
socius ludentium tteri, vel spectator." But no date is given to this excerpt. 
Julianus Antecessor was, however, a Roman jurist of the sixth century, who 
was a teacher of law in Constantinople during the reign of the great (first) 
Justinian. He translated the "Constitutiones" or statutes (called "No- 
velles") from the original Greek into Latin, which remained for many cent- 
uries the authoritative code of law for all Europe. Julian seems to have 
been engaged at this work in 556. Of course, though perhaps probable, it 
is not absolutely certain that in this citation the word refers to exactly 
that table-game (or tiiat form of tables) which prevailed four centuries 
later, and of which we have been treating. If it does, the fact leads to some 
important inferences regarding the introduction of the game into Europe. 
This verb existed likewise in later Greek, and this fact suggests some 
remarkable conclusions. We find it in every general Greek dictionary, 
laJiXUsiv ("to play at tables or dice"), and it is given as derived from tho 
Latin tabula^ which is itself represented, in a nominal form, by tapXa, "a 
dice-table;" and then we have other forms, xa,SX'.3ff,;, "a dice-player;" 
xapXiat-f^piov, "a place for dice-playing;" and a comic word, ta^Xtoicirj, formed 



STRA Y NOTES 81 



in imitation of KaXXtoic-r), said to signify ''a game at dice/' in connection 
with which we may observe that a colloquial, comic vocable of this sort 
hardly gets into speech or literature unless the thing satirized or treated 
risibly is very common, and very much talked of. We may take it for 
granted, knowing what we ^o of lexicographers' ways, that the "dice" 
copies in here simply because it is used in the game of tables, and that 
ta^Xa, for instance, signifies merely a board with which tables is played 
(table-board); and so with the other words. The first notable fact about all 
this is that tables was played in the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire, and that 
it went thither from the Western (Latin) Empire. Unfortunately the Greek 
sources cited are mostly of an unsatisfactory character. For lapXtoxYj^ we 
are referred to Suidas, who is supposed to be the author of a dictionary, and 
to have lived in the Byzantine Empire in the 10th century, but in fact noth- 
ing is really known about him. His glossary received many accessions 
after the original compiler was dead, and nobody can say which are the 
original words and which the later additions. It is very much the same 
with the "Greek Anthology," which is cited for lagka and xrx^Kionr^, That 
well-known body of clever sayings, striking bits of verse and epigrams went 
on growing from classic times down, perhaps, to as late a date as 900. Zo- 
naras is a reference a little more defined. He was a historian and lexicog- 
rapher, and flourished in the opening years of the 12th century ; he uses 
the verb xapXi^s'.v. The last citation is from Thomas Magister — a Latin 
name asw'ill be seen — the writer of a Greek grammar, and hence styled also 
Granmiaticus. He it is who makes use of ia,^Xtc5T*J]ptov, and he belongs to 
the very ultimate age of the Eastern Empire, being assigned to about the 
year 1310. A great deal might be made of all this if only some learned and 
patient Gnccist would be good enough to look up all the passages in which 
these borrowed words occur, and weigh them carefully. Even without in- 
vestigation the matter shows itself a subject of high interest. The inter- 
ested student will find further instances of the employment of these Greek 
derivatives of the Latin (abitia in the great "Thesaurus linguae grecae" of Henri 
Eticnne (Stephanus), among them references to a Greek glossary older than 
that of Suidas. Its original compiler, Hesychius of Alexandria, lived, ac- 
cording to some in the 4th, according to others in the 6th century; but his 
vocabulary, like that of Suidas, was increased during subsequent generations, 
making dates diflicult. The "Thesaurus" furnishes many very valuable 
citations. 

But this is somewhat of a digression. In the romantic literature of Italy 
tables does not seem to play anything like the rdle it fills in French and 
English, or else no one has taken the trouble to bring together the passages 
in which it is mentioned. With that remarkable character, the Emperor 
Frederick II, just cited, begins, as far as our certain knowledge goes, the 
mediaeval game of tables in the new Italy — as do so many other things — 
and it is next spoken of about the end of the century in which he died in 
the "Cento novello anticho," a collection of tales made up, as is known, 
from many sources. Their originals are found in ancient and later chroni- 
cles, in the romances of chivalry, and in the fabliaux of the French trou- 
veres. Here, as in the story-writers that followed, there was the same custom 
of grouping tables w^ith chess which was so common in Old French. In one 
of the hundred "novelle" we are told that of the characters on the scene at 

11 



« CHESS I\ ICELA \D 



one time: "Apprenso man^nare, qoAli prese a giaocarc a zara,* c qaali a 
tavola od' a Hchacchi, o ad altri diversi giaochi, c il daca si puose a giuo- 
care con an altro nobile cavaliere." In the world-renowned narratives of 
Boccaccio, which were produced not more than half a century later, is found 
almoiit the same phrase (giomo 3, introd.): — '*Chi a giuocare a scacchi e chi 
a tavole/' This was reproduced by still another teller of tales a centar>' 
and a half later, the Florentine Francesco Sacchetti,'' in words again nearly 
identical. 

Petrarch, in his most important Latin prose work, the "De remediis 
utriusque fortunae"— a production overflowingly full of erudition, in an age 
when learning was the rare possession of a few— alludes to the game of 
tables. The '*De remediis" was the most popular of all lay Latin writings 
In the centuries which lie between the 13th and the 17th. The libraries still 
preserve many reproductions of it in manuscript, while it "was translated 
— despite its length — into many tongues, and, when printing came, was issued 
In many editions. The first German version was given to the world adorned 
with a multitude of wood-engravings by the cunning hand of Burgmaier, the 
favorite disciple, in that branch of art, of Albrecht Diirer. The "De remediis" 
is In two books, the first attempting to show that good fortune is not always 
a thing to be coveted, the second that ill fortune is not always a thing to 
be deprecated. Each of these books contains a certain number of dialogues, 
the interlocutors, being in the first book, Joy (or Hope) and Reason, and, in the 
second book, Sorrow (or Fear) and Reason. It must be confessed that the first 
speaker has very little to say for himself, his office being, in general, to utter 

" Norella V (Libro di . . . cento novelle, Fiorenza 1572, pp. 8-9). The game of *< sara/* 
here groaped with tablet and choM, repreienta the "dice," which we have lo often seen 
•imilarly uied In Old French. Tomrnaieo derirea the vocable from the Greek liaaoQa through 
the Latin, the word being applied to the die from it« four-sidedneu. But Zarabaldi, in his 
later " Vocabolario etimologico ** (1889), layi that It comes from the Arable «ar = die — from 
the form with the assimilated article, as-tavy or, better, from the Middle Latin ad zardvm 
("at or on the dice,*' " by chance *'), from which originates the Italian azzardo and our 
ha§ard. The game was evidently a pure dice-game, the combinations thrown by means of 
three dice counting more or less according to their character. Dante opens the sixth canto 
of the "Purgatory** with an image drawn from the playing of cara; 

Quando si parte il ginoeo della zara, 
Oolul cho perde si riman dolente 
Ripetendo le volte, e tristo Impara : 

Oon r altro se ne va tutta la gento : 

Qual va dinansi, e qual diretro il prende, 
K qual da lato gll si reca a mento. 

Ki non s' arrcsta, e questo e quelle intende ; 
A oul porge la man, pifi non fa pressa; 
K eosl dalla oalea si difende. 

The first three lines are admirably rendered by Longfellow, who gives a proper technical 
defluitlon to "volte": 

Whenever fs broken up the game of sara 
He who has lost reroaiui behind despondent, 
The throw repeating, and In sadness learns. 

In his notes the tranNlator says: "Zara was a game of chance played with three dice.*' 
^ Franeesoo 8*cohettl, "Novollo" (FIrenie 17SI), II, pp. 66-68, nov. cUv. 



STRAY NOTES ^ 



the briefest statements of fact, or ejaculations, tQ serve as hooks upon which 
Reason may hang lengthy arguments and harangues. There are two dialogues 
relating to the game of tables. The first (book I, dial. XXVI) treats of alece 
ludus, which is tables, and of ludus calculorumf which latter is called, in the 
English rendering, '*lottes. " Both are described, but we quote only the ear- 
lier portion concerning "dice/' or ''tables''— both titles being used by the 
translator, who is Thomas Twyne. His version is very quaint; it is styled 
"Phisicke against fortune, as well prosperous as aduerse," and was printed 
in attractive black letter, at London in 1579; it well deserves reproduction 
by reason of its delightful English. The "tables" chapter, in the earlier book 
is entitled as we have hinted: "Of playing at Dice and Lottes" (De ludo aleac 
et calculorum. Dialogus XXVI) : ''Joy. — I am delighted with playing at dice 
and lottes. Reason. ~~ln the one of these games is losse in the other folly : yet 
it is reported that Scevola frequented them both, & that which is yet higher 
that Augustus the Emperour used the one. Yet notwithstanding, that this first 
chose these to be a recreation to hym selfe from the ceremonies of the Goddcs, 
& the lawes of men, in the knowledge whereof ho excelled, and Augustus 
from the cares of his great Empire, which he gouerned long and wel, now 
and then to refresh himselfe from his toyle: I wyl not commend the like in 
thee. For great and learned men haue certaine strange and peculier appetites, 
which if thou imitate aswel in maners as in doctrine, thou mayst sone fal. 
for al things are not worthy to be praised, which are praysed. /oy.— Itake 
pleasure in playing at Tables. Reason. — Who would not be delighted to 
throw forth a couple or more of squared bones, with certaine numbers marked 
upon euery side, and looke whiche way they runne, that way to direct the 
fingers, to place the round Tablemen in order: A glorious exercise, which is 
lyke to deserue a famous name, with a triumphant chariot, & renouncd 
dayes." This is valuable because of the light it throws on the character of the 
game of tables — being almost the sole, and certainly the best description of 
it, brief as it is, in the general literature of the Middle Ages. The other 
chapter (book II, dial. XVI) is one of the briefest in the whole work. Twyne 
calls it: "Of vnfortunate playing at Tables" (De aduerso ludo taxillorum). 
We give the whole of it: Soroice. — l haue lost at Table playing. Reason. 
— Dyd I not tell thee when thou wonnest, that it was but vzurie, and not 
gayne? Sorowe. — I am drawne dry with gamyng. Reason. — This game is of 
the same qualitie that Phisitions be, by ministring of a litle, to drawe foorth 
a great dealc: but beleeue mee, thou hast more cause now to reioyce, then 
when thou triumphedst with fals ioy. Better is sharpe chasticement, then 
deceitfull flatterie. The lytic vantage which thou gottest then, dyd bryng 
thee vnto the whirlepoolo of gaming now, and this losse wyll reclayme thee 
thence agayne. It is better to goe the right way with a foule brydle, then 
to be dryuen into a pyt out of the way with a golden payre of reignes. 
Sorowe. — I haue lost at tables. Reason. — But thou hast wonne at the game of 
manners, yf what thou hast doone thou marke diligently: otherwyse good 
medicines were in vayne geathered togeather for an incurable disease, yf 
neyther losse nor shame coulde reuoke thee from this bottomblesse pyt of 
destruction : for when as experience bryngeth no proflte, there is it in vayne 
to seeke to doo good with woordes." It is to be observed, however, that in 
this dialogue Petrarch styles the game to which he is alluding ludus taxUlorum, 
which is, literally, "the game of the dice," but being the counterpart of the 



84 CHESS IN ICELA ND 



one cited from the first book, the translator doubtless felt himself authorized 
to consider it '* tables/'* 

In all the larger bibliographies of chess there is included the title of a 
quaint work in Italian written by bishop Angelo Rocca (or "Roccha," in 
the orthography of the time), and published at Rome in 1617, in which 
much is said of the game of tavole. The author writes to prove that cards, 
dice and tables— fat?o/e con dadi, as he takes care once or twice to say — 

** Before citing the original text of Petrarch, we give, by way of introdnctlon, the renutrlu 
of the lulian Zdekauer — the title of whose treatise we quote on a following page — on the 
names and Implements of the games in which dice were used. In the Xlllth and XlVth eentnrlee, 
In Italy. He says : » " Innanzi tutto bisogna intendersi sul significato delle parole tecnleht, 
usate nel medio cvo in Italia per denominare i giuochi di fortuna o gli stramenti adoperatlTl, 
Questo punto 6 dMmportanza, perchd allora si formarooo parole nuovo o principalmeDte, 
perchA il sense delle parole romaue si era carabiato complctaraente, ed era qualehe Tolta 
diventato proprio il contrarlo; come prima di tatto avvenne nella parola: alea. Mentre al0m 
in lingua romana signiflca il dado di sei lati, puntato dal n*. 1 i)n*al n*. 6; — pol si prese nel 
senso piii largo di 'giuoco di dadi * in generale; e finalroente in quello di ogni giuoco dl for- 
tana; questa parola negli statuti italiani serve, per signiflcaro an giuoco. In eul si adopcraTano 
pedine, e dadi sopra un tavoliere. Questo 6 il cosi dotto 'ludus tabularum.' La parola <alea* 
e ' tabula * diventano sinonimi ; e il Petrarca ancora, bench^ fosse sommo conoscitore dellMdlo- 
ma, fa uso della parola 'alea,' per significare II giuoco delle tavole (De remed. utriutque fort. 
Dialog. 26. ' De ludo aUae et ealculorum.*) II modo, In cui la parola aUa perdette II sao ■!• 
gniflcato antico, ed acquistd quello del giuoco di tavole, si spiega con questo, ehe essa gl4 di 
buon ora venne presa nel senso dello seacchiere ; e con! facilmente potd dl pol essere adope- 
rata, per significare an giuoco in cnl il tavoliere era essenciale. Mentre danque aUa perdette 
II suo senso antico, la lingua form6 una parola nuova per II dado puntato, dl sel lati. Qaeata 
parola 6 taxilluM, ' TaxiUu$^ invcce nou 6 che an dirolnutivo della parola latlna /aliM, ehe ao« 
signiflca il dado, ma roasetto, nella saa forma naturale, como proviene dal plede poateriore 
deglt agnelll. Soltanto gli uraanistl levarouo via qucita confusione, ed II merito •! deve a 
Cello Calcagnini, il famoso precursore di Copernico, il quale nel suo scritto *<fe <a<onras, 
t€9»9rarum et calculorum ludie* (Opera, Bas. 1544, pag. S86-801) chiari 1 fattl. Qaesto ano 
merito h da stimarsi tanto piCi altaroente, in quanto ehe I ehiosatori molte volte abaglla* 
rono nel .commentare i due tiioli: Digest. XI, 5 de * aleatorihtu' e Cod. Just. 3,49 'de alea- 
rum u$u* prendeudo la parola alea ora ncl suo senso antico, ora nel senso medioeTaI«. 
Traccle dl qaesto errore si trovano ancora sulia fine del see. ZV. {Parie a Put0Of 1. e. 40; 
Coeta, 1. c. 8, S4, e 4, 8). I due gruppi prineipall del giuoco di fortuna nel medio evo aoao 
adunque II giuoco de* dadi, e quello delle tavole." Zdekaaer accompanies these preliminary 
remarks by notes of great value, citing many early writers on the subject of the Latin name 
by which the game of tables came to be known. Among them are Qlovanni d* Andrea, the 
Bolognese canonist (d. 1348), who sneaks of the "differentiaro Inter Indnm asari [dice], qol 
pendet a fortuna, et ludum alearum sive, tabularum, qnl miztos pendet a fortuna, et In* 
gonlo;*' and Marinus Socinus, a eommentator on the Decretals, who says: " Lndas alspamm 
Id est tabularum com taxiUis." " Siniilmente,'* Zdekauer goes on to say, "gli statuti [i, e. the 
manlcipal codes of Italy], usano queste due parole [i. e. aJea and tabula] come sinonimi, facendo 
eceeaione net lore divieti ora del *lttdu8 ad aleas,* ora per quello *ad tabulat,* *^ It will be 
noticed that Petrarch uses the expression, ludu* alea for "tables/* while later he speaks of it 
as a dice-game, tudua taxiUorum. Isidore of Seville (born in the 6th, died in the 7th oentory), 
the author of the "Origines," says al«a, id est ludue tabulce, Zdekaaer has likewise a long 
and interesting note on the derivation of the word tara. The text of Petrarch reads thus In 
the original T^tin:— "De lado aleas & caleuloram. Dialogus XXVI. Gat. — Alese lodof it 
calculorG. placet. BA. — Damnosum lllud, hoc inane, vtroque tamS idem ille Scaeuolai qnddqoe 
est altius Augustus CsDsar altero vti solitus fertur. Neqp rursus, Ided quud ille, k eerimonila 
deorum atqne hominum legibus quas ezcellentisBim6 callult, iste A curls summl imperij quod 
dintiseimi atque optim6 rexit, tale sibi ioterdfl laboris diuerticulfi elegisset, hoe iu te 
probanerim. SQt enim & doctis ac magnis virls appetltus qnldft peregrini et sol, qnorll 
si vt In doctrlnis sic in moribas Imitator fuerls, faelld labi queas, neqne enim omnium qnl 
laud&tur, lande digna sunt omnia. <?. — Aleso ludo delector. £. — Quis nO delectetur taper 
ptctft tabula eonslgnataa namerls osaium quadratnras crispanti eablto iaetare, qaaqi ille 
direxerit trepidantibns digitia rotondaa in aelem tabellaa mittere? Qlerioean eztreitiam k 



STRA Y NOTES 85 



are forbidden games, wlxile chess is allowed by all the ecclesiastical author- 
ities. But the noteworthy point of his discourse for us is, that We learn 
fh>m it the fact that as late as the first quarter of the 17th century the name 
of the game in Italy was still tavole (in the plural), and that apparently no 
other cognomen had ever been applied to it.* In Italian, too, but of far more 
recent date, is a dissertation— too brief and too limited in its scope — which 
attempts to give a description of tavole. The writer is a well-known Tuscan 

pHMlaram noin«ii, & camu ft laareaa meriinnin.**— The exirmct ttom the weond book 
i« M follows : — *< De adaeno ludo tazillonam. Dialo^iu XTI. Dolor. — TaxIIIortl la lado 
perdldi. XA. — IXdnn^ tibi dlzeram dvm Tinecres, fenns Id eue non loeram? />0. — Ludo 
•zhaiutos aom. RA. — Uic est ludo illl oioa, qui medieis perexiguo ingcsto plarlmtLezhaurlre: 
erode aotem mlhi nflc potlas gaodendam qo4m dnm faUo gaudio czaltabai. Mellor eat aeria 
eastlgatlo qa4ai blaoda fkllacia. Iliad te lueellam ad ludi voragloem roeabat, hoe te damnum 
inde retrahet. Satloa eat turpi freno reetum iter agere, quim babenia aorels pr:eeepa in deuia 
agl. DO. — Amfai In ludo taziUoraui. JZilT.— Viclati In ludo morum, ai quid ageris profundiua 
attendliti: alioquin morbo inaanabili fruatra remedia eogereutur, ai ab hoc baratro nee te 
damnum reaoeat nee pudor, vbi rebna oil profiritnr, nee quicquam rerbla aggrediare.** 
Bargmaler'a lllnatration to book T, dialogue XXVI, ia of the higheat lotereat. It4 date la 
before 1620, and It repreacnta a terrace, on which are aeated, on the right hand, two playera 
engaged at the game of tablea (tho board and men rery plainly depicted), and on the left two 
cheaa-playera, alao occupied at a game. Between these gronpi, in the background, at the foot 
of a eolumn, are two apea playing kt merellea (**nine men*a roorrla'*). All the boarda give 
a good idea of the luzury of die medioeral conrta in the matter of tablea and other Implements 
connected with the gamea in queatlon. 

^ Angelo Roceha, "TratUto contra i givochi dello carte e dadi prohibiti'* (Roma 1617). 
The portiona of this treatiae devoted particularly to cheas embrace pp. 71-81 (divided Into 
three cbaptera), and in this brief enay (pp. 75-76), the author interpolates the following atato- 
Bent eoneerning the derivation of the name of the game, Mcaecho aa he writea it:— "Non ^ 
parola detta dalla voce latioa teandendo come malamento acriue in questo Polidoro Virgilio, 
ma £ voce ehe deriua, e ha origine dalla lingua hebraica ; e giudica, che Pinnentore di detto 
giuoco ala atato hebreo, come moatrano queste due parole, tcaecho, mattho^ con le quail si 
llnlsee detto giuoco ; nel quale qnando *1 Re ai troua cireondato di maniera tale, ehe 6 for- 
lato a leuaral dal auo luogo, al dice air bora tcaecho; perchA tcaeh^ In lingua hebraica, 6 
quel medealmo che appreaao noi ii cireondato e intomiato. Ma perch^M morto da gli hebrei 
d detto math, o meth\ per6 nel medesimo giuoco quando'l Re h reao totalmente aaaediato, o 
fatto Immobile, come morto, air hora al dice, acach math ; ma corrottamonte in Italia si dice 
9cac€h9 mattho e con queste due parole si finisce'l giuoco. Tutto questo dice Gregorio Tho- 
loaano." The author here elted, Gregory of Toulouse (1540-1597), was a noted Juriat; his 
etymology of the word aeaeco seems to have escaped the researches of chess blbllographera 
and to be cited by nobody but Rocca. —One of the roost aurprlsing pieces of cheas etymol* 
ogy — alnee we are on that theme — la one In which two distinguished lezlcologiata have each, 
hla ahare of honour. In Braehot'a "Etymological dictionary of the French language,** the 
Rngllah edition of which ia iasued at the Clarendon Press (3d od. 188S) under the learned 
aupervlslon of Ozford university, we find «u& voc9 "pion,"' tho following statement: "a pawn 
(In ch'4a), O. Fr. poon^ or paonntt, from poon, a peaeock, q. v. Littr6 tell us that the pawn 
In early times was in the form of a peacock.'* We should have regarded this aatounding 
derlTatlon as a printer'a blunder bad it not been for the reference to Littrd, sinoe Brachet, 
under the next rubric ("pion, a foot-soldier"), gives the real etymology of tho word (from 
the Lat. accusative pedonem, from ptdea) in detail, and we should have taken it for granted 
that the two paragraphs were to be united, and the *' peacock" element eliminated from the 
llrat. But, turning to the huge " Dietionnaire de la langue fran^aiae" of Lltirfi (pion), we 
find the lines cited to be indeed there, and can only wonder at their exiatenee — wondering 
morel perhaps, that they should have misled Brachet. It is quite evident that neither ety. 
mologiat knew either cheaa, or chess history. Tho blunder Is corrected by Seheror^ In his 
'<Dietlonnalre d»Atymologle fran9ai8e" (3e ed. 1888) -but then he has some similar aina of his 
own to anawer for, aa when, in deriving the Old French roe (=rook) "du persan rokh/* 
he adda the meaning of the Peralan vocable, <'chamean monl^ par dea arehera,** wbleh is 
almoat ai amasing a ereatlon, In thia eonnection, as the peacock of Seherer'a predeceaaora. 
The blander la eopted by tke lalcet U a etymologiat, who, finding it in Soberer, took 
Ite eorreetiMM fbr gnuitti wU^ -Wr reaeareb. 



86 CffESS IN ICELAND 



scholar, Lodovico Zdekauer, and his treatise, "11 giuoco in Italia nei se- 
coli XIII e XIV,** was published at Florence in 1886, but is little known 
abroad. In it (pp. 9-10), after treating of dice-play pure and simple, ho 
says : i*Non meno numeroso che le variazioni del giuoco dei dadi sono quelle 
del giuoco di tavole. Esso si distingue da quoUo, perchd vi si adoperano le 
pedine [strictly 'pawns,* but here, as in some other writers, *men'], e lo 
scacchiere [here * table-board* simply] sopra di cui (super alea) ora si get- 
tano i tre dadi [meaning that, in addition to dice, necessary in all dice- 
play, we have here a board and men]. La parola tabula non significa lo 
scacchiere [board], ma le pedine [men, that is, all the pieces of the game] 
lo scacchiere [which is used in this game] si chiama *• tabolerium/ E owia 
la disposizione degli statuti, che si debba giuocare con tutte le tavole [*cum 
triginta tabulis*— that is thirty men were used in playing the gamej. Si- 
mile giuoco ci viene rafiigurato negli affreschi, che si trovano nel portico 
dclla chiesa di Lecceto, vicino a Siena.** In the wood-cut which accompa- 
nies this passage, representing a portion of the fresco alluded to, it is not 
easy to distinguish the character of the board, but there appear to be, as 
stated, fifteen men on each side. At the present day tavola reale (singular) 
is in Italian the common name for backgammon, the adjective perhaps in- 
dicating that it is the best or oldest of all varieties of tables, or that it was 
once a court-game. Tommaseo, the lexicographer, says that it is played by 
means of *'2 tavolette [the 2 divisions of the board] insiemo riunite, dove 
sono ventiquattro scacchi [points] movendo via via le pedine sccondo i punti 
che con i dadi si scuoprono" — a seemingly awkward definition in which 
*' scacchi** must refer to the points (twelve on each side), of the table (back- 
gammon) board, or to the spaces occupied by these points, affording a par- 
allel to the oldest Arabic usage according to which the same word {b6l = 
house) was applied to the "square** on the chess-board and the "point** of 
the board on which "nard** was played. In modern chess the Italian "ta- 
vola** means "drawn game*' — whether drawn by reason of lack of mating 
force, by perpetual check, by obstinate repetition of the same moves, or by 
the fifty-move limit. We must not forget to say, before taking leave of Ital- 
ian tables, that in the tenth century the higher clergy of Italy are charged, 
by at least two authors, with devotion to dice. One of these accusers is Ra- 
therius of Veron^ (but a native of Lidge), who attacks the Italian bishops as 
living luxurious lives, in a passage cited by Gregorovius and copied by Van 
der Llnde.'oo The other similar charge, aimed against all the clergy, is to 
be found in the letter of citation against Pope John XII, who was dethroned 
by the Emperor Otho I in 9G3, Unfortunately we cannot give the Latin text, 
and hence do not know the word used to express tlie kind of "dicing** they 
indulged in. The German expression is wiirfeUeiu that is, "they diced." 
In the following century we have the famous letter of Petrus Damianus (Ital- 
ian "Damiano,** but who has positively nothing to do with the Portuguese 
Damiano, one of the earliest writers on chess, though the two are often 
confounded), a cardinal and bishop of Ostia, hard by Rome. We know what 
word he used. He speaks of the passion for bird-catching, the chace and 

*» See bis ** Qeiicbichte" (I. p. ISO) where ii given the excerpt from Gregororlm, "Rom»» 
(III. 1870), p. ««0. The works of lUtherlus were published by the brothers Balleriul at Ve- 
roDA (1765), and there Is a notable aeconnt of this prelate (in whieh he is stjlod Bather) by 
Albert Vogel : <'Ratherins Ton Terona and daa aehnte Jabrhundert** (Jena 1854). 



STRA Y NOTES 87 



especially for dice (!) and chess {alearum in super furiae vel ^Tlttchorum), 
among the clergy of the peninsula. Those devoted to gaming are called 
aleatorii (episcopi)^ and alea is again used of the game a few lines further on. 
The writer gives an account of his reproval of a Florentine bishop (or a 
bishop of Florence). The latter excused himself for his interest in chess by 
saying that the ecclesiastical statutes did not directly prohibit that game. 
To which the episcopal critic responded: — '* Chess, indeed, the statute does 
not expressly punish ; but both kinds of games are comprehended under the 
name of alece. If then that game {alea) be forbidden and nothing be indi- 
cated about chess, still, as the same word includes both, therefore both are 
condemned.'' ^* The logic of Bishop Damiano was not any too sound, but 
the Florentine bishop, "being mild of disposition and shrewd of wit," as 
we are told, yielded to the argument offered and promised to err no more. 
The reader should notice the use of alea both in the singular and plural. 
The joining together of alea and scacchi^ after a custom which we have seen 
was so common everywhere in that age, and the fact that they were the 
two games familiar to the convents and schools of the time, make it pretty 
certain that the dice-game alluded to was tables. We can hardly fancy a 
wise bishop addicted to such a diversion of mere chance as the casting of 
dice without the opportunity of making any use of his intellect, such as 
tables would give him. With this ei>iscopal epistle we must take leave of 
Italy until she produces a Strohmeyer, wlio will tlioroughly search her older 
literature for the many scattered notices of chess and tables which it doubt- 
less contains. 

As to Spain there is the same lack of material, in an accessible sliape, 
as in Italy. The celebrated MS book of games, composed by the command, 
and probably under the direction, of Alfonso X, king of Leon and Castile, and 
still one of the choicest treasures of the library of the Escorial — that vast 
monastery, mausoleum, palace, wliich lies within an easy morning's journey 
of Madrid — is both the earliest treatise on chess and tlie oldest document 
relating to tables which have had their origin in Europe. Unfortunately 
for our present purpose little heed has been paid to any part of this vener- 
able literary monument except to the pages which treat of chess. Van der 
Linde alone, a® has endeavored to give a list of the subjects dealt with in 
the non-chess portion, but he does not go farther. According to him the 
first book of this splendid codex concerns chess only ; the second treats of 
games played with three dice {Lihro de los dados); and the third, which 
Van der Linde calls the Libro de los tablas—'wheihev this be the actual title 
it is not easy to say — apparently embraces games played with dice and men, 
or, in other words, the varieties of the game of tables. Van der Linde's 
enumeration of the chapter-subjects, that is, of the different games, in this 
third section is as follows: — Doblet^ fallas, seis, dos e as^ emperador, niedio- 

^* '^Ad quod ego icachum, Inquam non puuit; xed utriusquo ludi gcous aIosb nomine 
eomprendit. Quapropter dum alea prohfbetur, et iioniloatim de ftcacho nihil dfcitur, constat 
procol dubio ntruinque genus uno vocabnio comprelieusuni, unlus leutfulisc auetoritate dam- 
natum.**— B. Petri Damiani Operum tomua I. (Roma 1606), p. 24, EpUt. X, ad AUxandrum II 
Komanum ponteficem, et Hildebrandum cardinalem, ForcelHul »ay« (sub voce) that alew ia a 
general name for all games, tarn timplicet quam mtx/i, which are played with pieces or men, 
while alea ii used for those In which chance exclusively prevails (dice only, for instance). 
The plaj on words (alea and aUa) of the subtle bishop Is thus' explained. 

^ ''Quellenstudlen der QMoblelit* ^^ »U** (1881X PP. 78 ff. 



88 CHESS IN ICELAND 



empercuior, la pareji de entrada, cab, equinal, iodas, idblas, laquet, la hufa, 
cortesia, la hufa de baldrac, los Romanos reencontrat. Of these doblet is doubt- 
less the doublets of our old lists of amusements, *03 and is thus defined by 
one of the latest of our larger English dictionaries (the *'Century'*): "A game 
with dice upon tables, somewhat resembling backgammon,'* added to which 
the following quotations are given : 

They be at their doubUis still, 

a phrase from Latimer's fourth sermon before Edward VI (1549); and 

What ! Where's your dook ? . . . 
To tell you truth, he hath lost it at doubUta, 

a passage occurring in "The Ordinary" (1651) of Peter Cartwright, who, sin- 
gularly enough, was at once a poet, a dramatist and a divine of some little 
eminence. Fallas, in our Alphonsan list, is probably the English failes^ a va- 
riation of backgammon which seems at one time to have been common;*^ dos 
e as is our deuce-ace, used in connection with dice, and found in Shakspeare, 
and may resemble the backgammon variant described in the "Compleat Ga- 
mester" (1739) under the title of Size-ace;" emperador is perhaps the kind of 
tables called in France and England in the fourteenth century ''the imperial 
game"; todas, or something similar, is found in French notes on table games; 
tablas is, of course, the ordinary form of tables ; la bufa Van der Linde seems 
to connect with puff, the German name for backgammon, of which there is 
an early variant, buf. Several more — or perhaps all — of these games are 
very likely varieties of tables, but in the present state of our knowledge it 
is idle to discuss this section of the Alphonsan MS. Its fourth and final di- 
vision is of a miscellaneous character, including first an enlarged chess 
(grande acedrez), followed by a game styled tablas de alcedrez (in the orthog- 
raphy of the MS) a sort of combination of chess and tables, as is to be 
inferred; then comes a kind of astronomical chess—the combined result 
perhaps of don Alfonso's two favorite studies— the heavens and the chess- 
board — styled escaques, the title of which looks as if it might be a varia- 
tion of the word chess; and then the section closes with a very simple sort of 

'^Seethe "Complcat Gamester*' and other early treatises on games, Bngliih and 
Freoch; also the preceding p. 80. 

^^* To this game (a« we loam from the ju«t-cited "Century Dictionary" sub fayU»), 
Den JouMou, iu his ** Every man in his humour" (act iii, 8), thus alludes: 

lie's no precisian, that I'm certain of, 
Nor rigid Roman Catholio. He'll play 
At fayU» and tick-tack ; I have heard him swear. 

The aroheologist Fraucios Douce — he who wrote an interesting essay on "The Uuropean 
names of the chess-men" (17U4)— has described the game of fayle* : "It is a very old table- 
game" [as old evidently as the days of King Alfonso], "and one of the numerous varieties 
of backgammon that wore formerly used iu this country. It was played with three dice and 
the usual number of men or pieces. The peculiarity of the game depended on the mode of 
flrst placiug the men on the points, if one of the players threw some particular throw of 
the dice, he was disabled from bearing off any of his men and therefore fayUd in winning 
the game — and hence the appellation of it." Faylit is the orthography in the I^tin XlVth 
century MS on tables preserved in the British Museum, to which we shall reenr. 



diM-game called ai*^tt^^ii^. Tii* r?^.i* 'v::l —aj ▼cl- i«; r^!LiL■^i J^ one 
of the hondred bum? ^izi<:*^s rc^Lsss _^ Z~j-::iia" l/'riri"**. w»5 o»:c:ptI^I. 
too, at the iosiaib» .>f a =i ?« i^.: l* 4 ^^ -'trr^z. ItSI Ani ISS?-. an 1 is, 
artistically, of zLazniih^i': -ji-ii! ir: r- I- :i^i- niT^vtr. ci:n«:ierli:g i:.« 
date, to be of eonsi-i^n^ J^ ti.-^ :: :lr ::-r^.*i;r •-i-iTrct- Cn ier ali these 
drcamstaaees it iM» a:*: «.ii*;i ::.; m:^ "m a*x. :- ti-rs* iajs of reprint? 
and reprodnctioBs. cf •?Arij-':4T; *.:i;i-iT:-*s- :' a:^:-rx:c *-i easily executed 
^Py**^ proeesaes, lia: *.: :=.^^r*n:rx an:- i~e- : : ' rojil «1 ; "ar^iip sLoqM 
be made more araila^le :: iiT*rtxit: r§ : irl "ila: :-* S-ari*'- joTemEient, 
haTiog already ziTec v. ijl-» ▼ : rl 1 tl.-* a*v : - : n: :al •»■ : rt* ■: f this ecliihiencd 
monarch, shocid f:::?^ «-i:i a r>:-: i^: :t i- :•.:_-..•. 2r::ne: y Bellet like- 
wise coosecra&es oc* :r 1_* riaivr* -.1* ±r:..- - £1 A>ir^z.*' l?:-^ pp. 243- 
dfS8) to the -Libr'5 i* i:- Alfi— *<: •=. i^'-,:.;.' .- -^iirii Le .x-Eiine* hizLseA 
rigidly to the ches« ;.:r:::=. cf -J.* M-iei. E-: A..':-*.;. :li nost prolific of 
all royal aathorsw an: '^-\ xni:.' *:.ri :=. ••: i-a-t ▼aj* to iLe deve:o{,- 
ment of his •^>a!:trT'« It-z-ivz:' ici .c::6r*-'- a.!ii-j?* is otler wriiins* to 
the game of ubiety. :•. :* ll^*: •-:--£»: :i. i:^ re::;ArjLa.hle -x-ie of laws— still 
the basis of Spacish. ^ -r.^p:: i-rr. **=—£:: .wn 43 "La* *;ete paniias" tin iii 
part II, as pabli^Leti. :-:-t V. j^tt zl : i- i irain. oc more than one pase, 
in his histoncal Tork :r: -^e Cr-^i-sr^ "I-a jrac -xriquisu de ultra iiar**! — 
the most familiar pas^a^-;. >;rjj;-. •.■c.i;: ::^: ir. Tr>.;.;h he relates h-jw the 
Ikther of Goiifrey of x>;-;.l.:i ::-a:-s l.t •.:!.• l-ian- ;:.e -.'iez'ys ^es aje«lrez 
6 de tables." Of aiiot:.^.- .S;.:Mi*:. s.-yver*.^':: tiere ei:*ts a notable relic in 
thearchiTes of Bar-^elona. I: ;« a- ir.v-rLV,-.-.- 0: the effect* 0: Martin of .Vra- 
gon, the imcL^diatft pr^ieci!r«fr-or cf F-criinaal./ il. the husband of Queen 
Isabella of Ca«ti>— t:.^ •.▼> h^.r.? t:.'.-<, ::r-:ly rilin:: ELonarcLs who playe^i 
■o large a part in the iz.rj of Ovl .r..^--*- Kic;: Marti c. T*ho was the last of 
his house, that of Barcel .ti. :i^i ^n li: .•. T:.e h.st of cLe-js boarls and ches-s- 
men, table-boards ani tar-le-L-ec in tl.-i jt:r.;;*?j possesfeion is eitracte*! from 
the inTCotory. ccaJe do'-'-.tl-iAij after h:* ieat.-i, ar.d prlnte.! by Brunet y Bel- 
let.** It U too ionz t'> "ry> ;/;-.en r^ere. r^Mt w.;; repro-iuce one or two of the 
items relating to table*, .n t::e orti'iO^'rap.-.y of the original. We find i/n 
towfer de Jugar cr tou/yiri av •'<* //*^n^i '/« >'^*/'» * '^'^ nacre '*"a table-board 
with points of ;a«per and L-.ot;. -rr -of -pearl "^ ihi.'s board, with its re*fplendeni 
"points." haTic^ on the ih'iHT'^i WAh a che**-board inlaid with the same rich 
materials: and there w*:re other hoar'!« of the «*«.«; «sort, chess on one side 
and tables on the other — eia^rtiy hi rr* liar t/> the che^-s and backgammon 
boards of to-iay, On^; tiad t^Mes on one ^ide. and the other side was de- 
vided between che«i*i and "nine .'i.en'fc rtiOrrit." Another board is described 
as a table-l^jard of juj'jbe •AO'/d tun tauUir de inul^.% rfe giixfjfAern)^ and 
there were case* '«,('«/o?>, f^^fUtAUtluii Homelimes lu'sn for tables, sometimes 
chessmen, a^ when the ifiventory Hpe*k*» of a case of precious wood of two 
divisions, in the f\rh\ of which were 'U table men and in the other 32 chess- 
men, one half of fihr-h t,f ivory and the other half of ebony (/i/? ^it///.? c«*e.y 

^ Tiekaor, tb« Ll«u>rffta «/ Mf^iiltk liUrAtur*;, •t«t«« tbftt AlfooM **tr»i ua4« tb« Cm* 
tllUa ft aationAl Ubfu*f«-„'' and ««tlfriftU« •! « lilyb vjiltt« tb« ktuf*** <;<#4« au4 other worlu, 
MyfBf that tb*7 f»r« tb« riylit 4fr«<tl'/b ftb4 <bftr«<Ur U^ Hpfti»l«li proM — '^a Mrvlc« perhaps 
greaUr than It bat b««a |,4rMifU4 ai«/ '^tb«r Hp*ular4 t4» reu/ler the prMc liuraturo of hit 
eoastiy.** 

*» **K1 A)e4rei/' pp. itl-tl'J. I be lUt !• als</ llfttfttUtkally iBterMtlsy. 

k- 12 



90 CHESS IN ICELAND 



en la i^ de las quels hauia XXXII taules e en laltre XXXII pesses de schachs 
la meytat de vori^ el altre meytat de hanus). In the same good king's library 
was a paper codex entitled ^'Dels jochs de scachs e de taules "" (to say nothing 
of five other MSS devoted only to chess), the description of which in "El 
Ajedrez'* would make the calmest-minded book-hunter's eyes water. Brunet 
y Bellet also tells us that among the Catalans of those times there were many 
such treatises on chess and tables (and just in these days in which we are 
writing he has edited an old Catalan translation of the chess-morality of 
Jacobus de Cessolis). From **El Ajedrez*' we likewise learn that don Diego 
de Clomencin, one of the commentators of Cervantes' great romance, in his 
note on the well-known chess passage in **Don Quixote" (v., p. 46 of the 
Clemencin edition), speaks of the games of tables and chess as very common 
in the Spanish Middle Ages {Las tablas y ajedres eran jiiegos muy usados 
en la Edad Media. *<" Of Spain's sister kingdom there is hardly anything 
to be said, and nothing of an early date to cite. We will content ourselves 
by remarking that the word "tables" {taholas) is yet in use in Portuguese 
as the title of a game, though the fabricators of dictionaries don't quite know 
how to treat it. A late lexicon of the English' and Portuguese, that of La- 
carda, translates, in its English-Portuguese part (1866), the word "tric-trac" 
by ijogo de) taholas; while in the Portuguese-English part (1870), he ren- 
ders (jogo de) gamao (our "gammon") by backgammon, but gives {jogo de) 
tabolas as "the game called tables or draughts,^" Such is the intelligence, 
as well as the consistency, of lexicographers 1 — This is a meagre notice of 
what, at the present moment, can be hastily gleaned about this ancient 
game in Europe's southwestern peninsula. The reader will understand that 
Spain and Portugal, like Italy, remain virgin fields of great promise, await- 
ing the zealous investigator into the story of the hidus tabularum. 

Into the language of Germany the Latin word tabiUa has made its way 
in various forms. The oldest of these is zabal^ found in the Old High Ger- 
man period, which terminates with the 12th century; in the Middle High 
German, the linguistic period which followed, the word became zabel. So 
little has been written in Germany — the land of learned research — in regard 
to the social games of the earlier periods that scarcely any examples of the 
use of zabal or sabely in their simple form, to signify the game of tables, are 
available. Massmann, in his "Geschichte des mittelalterlichen Schachspieles" 
(Quedlinburg 1839, p. 53), asserts that in an Old German gloss of the 9th cen- 
tury, ludere tabulis is rendered by za sjnlonne saples ("they play at tables"). 
Schmeller, in his "Bayerisches Wcirtorburch" (IV., p. 215), cites the old 
South-German words zabilstein ("table-stone") and iciirsabelslein ("wurf- 
zabelstcin"), signifying a piece at tables. In the knightly poem of Wiga- 
lois— which we shall cite again— (edited by Benecke, Berlin, 1819, and better 
by Pfeiffer, Leipzig 1847) occur the following lines (v. 10601) : 

Da fanden si der saelden schiu 
Und scbdner kurzewile vil 
Vou zabel and von aeitespil. 

The poet, Wirnt von Gravenberg, composed this work, derived from French 
sources, at the very beginning of the thirteenth century. 

*" Se« "El Ajedrez," p. 221. 



STRA Y NOTES 91 



It is meanwhile taken for granted that tables came over the Alps, or across 
the Rhine, before the introduction of chess,** but when the latter arrived it 
was at once seen to be a table-game like the diversion with which people 
were already familiar. So, as in Iceland and Holland, it was deemed neces- 
sary to distinguish them. The old game, because it was played with dice, 
or accompanied by the casting of dice, was called lourfzdbel (or "dice-ta- 
bles''), the latter became schachzahel ("chess-tables''). The first appear- 
ance of chess in Germany is in the fragmentary Latin poem, "Ruodlieb," 
seemingly composed in Bavaria— close by one of the most frequented routes 
between Italy and the North— and now assigned to the middle of the Uth 
century. *» Being in Latin it, of course, throws no light on the vocable 
sdbdl. In the compound schachzahel the second element underwent much 
popular deterioration, for we find schachsagel and schafzagel (which latter, 
according to Van der Linde, now lingers as a Bavarian name for the mor- 
ris-game), not to speak of the later schachtafel (exactly corresponding to the 
Icelandic skdktaft). Wackernagel (p. 36) cites from the inventory of a no- 
bleman's possessions (Count Sibotos von Neuenburg), towards the end of 
the 13th century, four schahzahel and four wurfzabel, and ivory men belong- 
ing to both games (elefantei lapides tarn ad vourfzabel quam ad scahzabel 
pertinentes). In Middle High German literature there are various allusions 
to tables. In the " Wigalois" (v. 10582 ff.) we have an allusion to the splen- 
did boards and men of early times, contrasted with the cheaper wooden 
ones of later days : 

DA lagen ror der fronwen fler 
Wnrfieabel ande karrier, 
Geworht von helfenbeiue ; 
Hit edelem gesteine 
Spilten si, mit bolse niht, 
Ala man na froawen spllen siht. 

The word "kurrier," in this passage, has been much debated. It is too 
early to be considered a reference to the alia rabbiosa, or modern chess 
(called in German the "Current oder das welsch schachspiel"); and if it 
means the *'Courrier spiel" mentioned by Jakob von Ammenhausen in his 
chess poem (1337), and long played at the chess village of StrObeck, then 
this must be its first appearance in literature. There are various references 

*^ See WackernageVs "Ueber dai Scbachzabelbncb Konrads tod Ammenbaasen*' in 
tbe "Beitrftge zar Qescbichte and Literatur** of Kar£ and Welssenbacb (Aarau 1846), p. 38. 
Speaking of fif|;uratlve ezpreisions drawn from chess which bad become every day utterauees, 
tbe writer says: **Scbon das warfelsplel [tables] hatte solcber ausdrdcke genng an die band 
gegeben/* implying a eonsiderable priority of tables in Germany. 

*^ Von der Lasa gives tbe most interesting aeoonnt of tbe cbess episode in tbe "Rood* 
liob" {"Zar Gescbicbte und T.iteratnr des Scbacbspiels,'* pp. 47-51). Tbe earliest writers on 
this poem decided that tbe handwriting of tbe MS proved It to be of tbe 9tb century, but 
later estimates have gradually redfnced its aseribod age. The chess story Is not unlike those 
occurring In some of tbe Icelandic sagas, in which tbe chess expressions are now regarded 
as later Interpolations, or erroneous nses of terms relating to tables. Might it not be that 
the Ruodlleb M8 was written in some remote convent of the Bavarian Alps, where old forms 
of writing lingered to a late day, which would make the palseograpbical indioations uneer- 
talB ? Still It is not Impossible that a German monk, having visited Rome earlier in tbe 
centory, might have brought some Idea of cbess to bis transalpine home. The poem baa 
been edited by Seller (188S). As to tbe **Wlgalol«'* see Massman*a "Oesebiebte" (Regittor 
especially), p. 158. 



92 CHESS IN ICELAND 



to Currier-schach and Currier-spiel, as well as to current-chess, in the index 
to V. d. Lindens "Geschichte/* Wackernagel quotes (p. 35) a passage from 
an early source— he gives no date— attacking the game of tables: "Noch 
ist einer leie spil, des herren spulgent, von dem doch vil siinden und schan- 
den kurat etswenne : wurfzahel ich daz spil iu nenne." In an ordinance of 
the authorities of Bockholt (Prussia), of about the 14th century, the game 
of tables is styled werftafel, but sometimes bretspil is used specifically for 
the earlier game. In the great museum at Nuremberg, and in other Ger- 
man collections, table-boards ascribed to the 14th and 15th centuries are 
preserved, but descriptions of them are not easy to procure.— Mentions of 
the game occur early in the Dutch, Danish and Swedish literatures— the 
name being always a derivative from tabula, but exact references cannot 
yet be made. In Icelandic, as we have seen, the word taft is frequent in a 
very remote age. 

As to the Celtic lands there seems great reason to believe that tables, 
in at least one of its forms, was a familiar diversion at a very early period. 
The old Irish and Welsh literary monuments abound in notices of games — 
all of which ignorant translators generally render by chess. But from lack 
of any systematic investigation by Celtic scholars the subject is still most 
obscure. But it is not improbable that the Britons acquired from the Ro- 
mans a knowledge of certain classic table-games, and retained their practice. 
The word tawlbwrdd (** throw-board'* as it is rendered), if we are not greatly 
mistaken, has tabula as its first element, and the English board (Icelandic 
bor^) as its second. This is a Welsh term, which seems to have been 
widely known and used. It occurs repeatedly in Dr. William Wotton's 
"Leges Wallicae'* (London 1730, p. 266 and 583), in a passage cited both by 
Van der Linde and Forbes, "o In Erse, at the present time, the game of 
backgammon is called taiplis (= tables). The lexicographers give, as cor- 
responding to the Anglo Saxon tcefel, the Gaelic taibhleas (backgammon) and 
the Welsh tawlbwrdd (which the earlier Bosworth renders *^ gaming table 
like a chess-table*'). Bosworth (1838) likewise cites taol and taut as Celtic 
forms of tabula (the latter Armorican). — Although the information is hardly 
in place here, it may be of interest to know that in all the Arabic lands 
from Morocco to Syria (the game of) backgammon is called {Wb) et taula, 
that is *Hthe game of) tables.'* The word taula is, of course, a descendant 
of the Latin tabula, but at what time it came into the new Arabic it is 
perhaps impossible to ascertain— though it was surely more than two centu- 
ries ago. Modern Italian words abound in all those Vulgar-Arabic idioms 
which are spoken along the Mediterranean shores, and this is very likely 
no older than the Italian form {tavola). 

Chess and Draughts. — Before we endeavour to consider more fully the 
question of what the game of tables really was, and in order to clear the 
ground somewhat, we will note that certain writers have hinted that the 
Icelandic to/I (in one or another of its varieti9i3 at any rate) may be iden- 
tical with the game of draughts; it is therefore desirable to look a little at 

IV The pMMige namea the objeeto to be eonforred by the Welsh kinf on eertaln eourt 
ofBeialB at the time of their installation, among them being always a tawlbwrdd. The Ta- 
ried value to be plaeed npon the taiwVbwrdd manafaetnred of different materials (a boUoek's 
horn, a hart*s antler, a bone of a sea animal, wood) Is also indieated. Beading the list of 
objeou one gets the idea that the sense of tawlbwrdd might be <*dlce-boz*' or **pjrffBi." 



STRA Y \0 TES 93 



this latter game, its character and its history. The first thing whicli strikes 
everybody upon making himself familiar with t)ie game, is that it is played 
upon a chessboard. After an instant of reflection follows the question : 
Is this really the case f Is draughts played upon a chessboard f Or is not 
rather chess played upon a draught-board t Was not chess a further and 
more complicated development of draughts t Happily the various investi- 
gations into the history of chess have answered tlicse queries. Whatever 
else is known with certainty as to the story of chess, this is at any rate 
sore, that the game existed long before draughts had come into being. And 
another thing may be taken as equally a matter of fact, and that is that 
draughts had its origin in the game of chess, and is merely a modification 
or simplification of that diversion. It is played on a board designed and 
used for chess; the ordinary moves of i(s men are imitations of the moves 
of some of the chessmen ; and a man arriving by forward movements at 
the eighth, or farthest, rank of the board, undergoes a change very similar 
to that which takes place, in the case of a pawn under like circumstances, 
at chess. These three features make the ^^ whence** of draughts quite dear, 
and show the propriety of its alternative appellation of ^'chequers," or check- 
ers, which is sometimes heard."* Van der Linde believes that the game 
of draughts was developed out of chess in Spain, and certainly the oarliost 
literature of the game is Spanish. ^^^ He finds its precise origin in the 
queen (or fers) of Arabic-Spanish chess, the draughtmen reproducing the 
move of the queen, as it was in that period; and he seems to consider that 
the presence of several chess-queens (in end-games), on the 1)oard at the 
same time, (of which he presents some examples), *i9 may have first given 
birth to the idea of the newer game. The historian of chess fails, how- 
ever, to continue this line of en(|uiry to its utmost limit, an<l through all 
its ramifications — not telling 11s by what process, and with what scope in 
view, the derived diversion was evolved. Otherwiso ho would have inado 



'** This would mean the game of the chekyr (OM-Kiigliflli), or rh«ss- board, and bulonir* 
really to the Ameriean dialect of Rngllsb. In New Knglaud cheai win almoat wholly iin* 
praetlced until a eentnrj and a half (or more) art«'r tho enuntry'H Nuttleinitiit. To the colo. 
nliti, therefore, the cheM-boanl (or "ehocker-board,** aa it waa ofteuvat atyUd), wa« ouly 
known aa a board naed In playing the game of draiiglita, and draiighta waa accordingly looked 
upon aa preeminently the game of tlio eh^kyVf with littlu thought or knowlfdge of eheaa. 
** Checkers** contlnuea to be the houitehold game of the country dlatrirta In very many 
sectJona of the United States — especially in the wint<!r evenings of the villagers and farmera. 
It may thus be appropriately styled '* rural chesa.** 

^** The first printed books on draughts were of the 16th century, and wurr all isauod In 
a single eity, Valencia. The earliest waa: "KI Ingenio juego de nmrro, d« punto o damaa** 
(1647) by Antonio Torqnemada ; the accond, *' Del Jncgo de las <<amas, volgarroente el niarro ** 
(1590) by Pedro Rnis Montero ; and the third, " Libro del ivego do laa dama»^ por otro uombrti 
el marro de pvnU*' (1597) compiled by Lorenzo Valla. The game, It thoa aei^ms, had a see* 
ond name in early Spanish— marro, or marro de punto. We must always thou bear In mind, 
in this conneeUon, that there is no trace of draughts, In any laud, hack of the tSth century. 

in *(Oeachiehte des Sehaehaplvls,** II, p. 894. For a vast deal of interesting matter 
eoBcemlng dranghU, see the full index to the "Ooschlehto** tub Dame (u stein), Hamhreti 
and damtspUl, and In particular the remarkable section VIII of the third «< Abtheilung,** 
entitled **das Damensplol,'* in volume II., pp. 398-416, which ends with a bibliography of 
the gama; also the *«Quellen-studion," p. S41, as to tho namo of the game. Outalde of Van 
der Linde's work there Is to be found almost nothing of tho slightest value in regard to this 
<Mittle-ehess,** as it is styled in Russian — sikosH, Its Slavonic namo being the plural of Bkaakm^ 
a dimlnntlve of the Russian word reproaoBtlng ** chess.'* 



94 CffESS IN ICELAND 



it more clear that the inventor had in his mind's eye the continual forward, 
and never retrograde move of the pawn, as the foremost characteristic of 
the move of all the figures in the modified game; and, added to this all- 
essential feature, the subordinate one of the pawn-attribute of changing its 
character as soon as it could no longer continue its forward march. He 
neglected, too, to perceive that the capturing method of the draughtman orig- 
inated in the early Asiatic-European move of the bishop — to the third square 
diagonally, leaping over any intervening piece (that is over any piece occupy- 
ing the central square of its march), exactly as the draughtman now lerfjjs 
over the opposing figure which he thereby captures. He tells us elsewhere 
in his invaluable writings that, up to the date of its introduction into Spain 
(or, perhaps, a little later), the chessboard was all of one colour, the squares 
indicated only by lines; he even states the fact more definitely, saying that 
before the date of the chess-work compiled under the direction and authority 
of Alfonso X, no indication is found, in or out of Spain, of a parti-coloured 
board ; but he omits to observe what influence this novelty would be likely 
to have in helping to originate the new departure in the history and use of 
the checkered table. For this new colouring of the squares would, of course, 
at once give a great prominence to the diagonals, making them of even 
greater, distinctness — as will be understood at a glance — than the rectili- 
near squares. We may, therefore, say that draughts is a simplified chess, 
designed to avoid the difllculties of the Indian game, and evolved from the 
Indian chess by a process like this: — 1. The squares used were limited to 
those employed by the queen and bishop in the old chess of Spain (namely 
the diagonals only, for the movements of the queen as well as those of the 
bishop, were then restricted to a single colour — as we now say since the 
chessboard has become parti-coloured) ; 2. Two ranks were then left be- 
tween the arrays of the opposing players for the opening battle-field (i. e. 
skirmishing-ground); 3. The men were next given the move — as it was at 
that time — of the chess-queen (one square each way diagonally), while, as 
their capturing-move, was borrowed the ordinary contemporary move of the 
bishop (to the third square, diagonally jumping over any intervening ob- 
stacle); and, as a final characteristic, the men received the attribute of the 
chess-pawn, which, upon attaining the eighth rank, acquires a great in- 
crease of power, together with the new faculty of making retrograde moves. 
Thus we see that, at the bottom of the inventor's mind, was the idea of dimi- 
nution as a simplifying force— diminution of the squares by one half (32 in 
place of 64); of the battlefield free to both forces at the outset by one half 
(2 ranks in place of 4); of the number of figures by one fourth (24 instead 
of 32); and of the variety of pieces by five-sixths (chess having king, queen, 
rook, bishop, knight, pawn, all with varying powers). The evolution of the 
new game, as here portrayed, seems so natural as almost to prove itself. — In 
several very early chess MSS, composed on this side of the Pyrenees, the 
chess matter is followed by explanations of other table games, such as 
"tables" and " merelles,'* but among these additional games draughts is, 
so far as we know, never found. This strengthens, if that were needed, the 
existing opinion as to the Spanish origin of the game. The story of the be- 
ginning period of draughts, its close connection with chess (as a game of pure 
skill, into which the element of chance by the use of dice does not enter), 
and its late appearence in the ci8-pyren»an parts of Western Europe seem to 



STRA Y XOTES 95 



forbid its identification with 'Mables/* or with the Icelandic ''to/I/* to which 
latter matter, though, we shall again refer.— There is some obscurity about 
the origin of the continental and therefore earliest appellation given to this 
chess-derived game — in Spanish, as finally, and exclusively adopted, Jtiego 
dedamas; in French, >eu de dames 'fin Italian, gUioco di dama; in German, 
damenspiel. Van der Linde ("Geschichte,** I, pp. 287 and 321-24) at first 
thought that the word dama formerly signified simply "man" (i.e. in a 
game), but subsequently abandoned— partially at least — that idea ("Quellen- 
studien,** p. 241), although in French dame^ in draughts, still lias that pe- 
culiar sense. In connection with the last citation he suggests that it is 
originally a Provencal derived form of the Latin domina (= mistress, lady), 
but as a chess-term it was first used by the Spaniard Lucena (1497), where it 
is employed alternately with fers (or, as Lucena writes it, alferezza)^ the 
Asiatic-European title of the piece now known as "queen.'' Lucena, as the 
earliest writer on the new or modern chess, styles the transformed game 
"Queen*8 chess'" {de la dama)^ because of the fuller power given to the old 
"fers." The chess which was passing away he calls **the old" {el vie^'o). 
This, of course, gave prominence to the word cia ma (= queen). But it ap- 
pears probable that the expression "queens' game" (Juego de damas), came 
in part, as is hinted elsewhere, from the adoption of the old move of the chess 
queen (one square diagonally) as the normal move of each of the men at 
draughts, but perhaps more from the frequence of "queens," (or crowned 
pieces) in the new game. In chess, the change which the pawns undergo, on 
arriving at the eighth rank, is not of very frequent occurrence, and was for- 
merly even less common, while, in that game, the player has the choice among 
several pieces, the powers of any of which the metamorphosed pawn may 
assume. In draughts, however, the act of "crowning" occurs in nearly every 
partie, and in many several times, so that each player may easily have, and 
does have, three or four or more "queens" (or, as we call them in English, 
"kings") on the draught-board at once. In this light the name "game of the 
queens" becomes most appropriate. — In the same way but little labour has 
hitherto been spent in endeavoring to explain the exact propriety of the En- 
glish name of the game. The earliest distinct allusion to draughts is in the 
(p. 78) quoted passage from the "Destruction of Troy" (early in the 15th 
century), where we read : 



The draghtet, tbo dyse au<1 other dregh [t. e. tedioas] gaames. 

But the game and its name had become very familiar early in the 17th century, 
when William Perkins, in his work "A Case of conscience" (1619), speaks of 
"the games of chesse and draughts/" In France it was described in a book 
styled "Recrdations math^matiques" in 1030 (Rouen), and a special treatise 
by Pierre Malet, "Le iev de dames," appeared in 1668 (Paris) ; while in England 
no book devoted to it saw the light before William Payne's slender volume, 
"An introduction to the game of draughts" (London 1756). In Germany an 
inedited MS by Johann Wolfgang Schmidt, composed at Nuremberg in 170(), 
IS preserved in the Royal Library of Berlin, while " Das erkliirte Damenspiel" 
(by an amateur, "F. T. V.") was issued at Magdeburg in 1714. In Holland, a 
"Verhandeling over het Damspel," by Ephraim van Embden, appeared in 1785, 
but in all other lands the oldest printed treatise bears a nineteenth-century 



96 CHESS IN ICELAND 

date. In Iceland very little was heard of draughts until within the same 
period, nor is it any way common in the island even now. It came from Den- 
mark, and is usually mentioned by its Danish name {damm, danispil). Its Scotch 
name, dambrad, indicates its introduction into that country from France.— 
Draughts, it may be remembered in conclusion, like all similar games, has 
its different ramifications, or species. In the United States (notably in the 
rural districts) is often practised the sort locally known as "give away''*^* — 
a kind of suicidal draughts, in which each player tries to force his opponent to 
capture as many men as possible, the real object being to lose the game in- 
stead of winning it. To the same genus belong the suicidal problems of 
chess. — A more important variety is called "Polish draughts,'* played on a 
board of 100 squares (10 X 10), each player controlling twenty men. Van der 
Linde says that this is the only draughts now practised in Holland — the later 
treatises on draughts in the Dutch language limiting themselves to this spe- 
cies. No investigator has ever, so far as we know, tried to trace the origin of 
this so-called Polish game. Whether it came from Poland or elsewhere, it 
appeared in France a few generations ago, attained a great vogue for a while, 
and is probably still played. The French chess-players, Philidor, in the last 
century, and Deschapelles in the present century, were known as adepts at 
this enlarged draughts. "^ 

The word draughty or drafts besides its various other meanings, has that 
of "move'* in a game, and at a very early period is so used in English chess. 
Thus we find in Chaucer's "Death of Blanche la Duchesse*' (651-654) : 

At the chesso with me she g&n to pleye ; 
With hir Calno draughtet divers 
She stal on mo and took my fers; 

and in the early years of the 15th Century, in the verse of Thomas Occleve 
(6. about 1370, d, 1454) : 

And for that amoug draugJUes eachono 
That into tho chess apertene may, 

and only a little later, in that of John Skolton, in his striking piece of imag- 
ery drawn from chess: — 

Our days be datyd 
To be checkmatyd 
With drawityg of deth. 

Draught was a very common word, to express what we now call "move,'* in 
all the Old-English productions relating to chess, while its cognate, drag^ 
still continues to be used in Swedish in the same sense. Thus in Barbier's 
"Famous game of chesse-play'' (1690)— a revision and enlargement of the 

'^^ In Bagland (sod fn Aroerlcau treatUes) known as *Uhe losing game.** 
*^ Book* on rulish draught* have lately been published in Uermauy. Poisibly the game 
was originated at the half-Polish, half-French court of Stanislaus Lecsinsky, the exlKd king 
of Poland, (father-in-law of Louis XV), who, from 1796 to 1766, resided at Nancy and Lunu- 
Ttlle as prlnee (or **kiog**) of Lorrsine and Bar. — Hyde (1694), of course, knew nothing of 
the Polish game. His treatment of the ordinary game of draughts is, perhaps the most 
unsatisfactory portion of his two voluinos. He makes it identical with the Roman ludtu 
latruneulorum, but at the same time seems to think It of oriental origin. He gives repre- 
sentations of two draughtboards, one of which has sixteen men arranged on the fir?t two 
ranks of each player — in which case use is made, not only of the diagonals but of all the 
64 squares of the board (see Hyde, II, pp. 173-195). 



STRAY NOTES iv; 



earlier work (1614) of Arthur Saul, bearing tho same title— wo llnd tlio loi- 
lowing verse referring to the usual mode of deciding the first move by lot:— 

If ou your man you light 
The first draught shall you play : 
If uot, bo mine by right 
At first to lead tho way. 

Now the game of draughts has no checking, no mating, no castling, no va- 
riety of movements among its men ; lience it is possible to consider it as a 
simple collection of moves, or as a collection of simple moves— a game of 
moves and nothing else. This suggestion as to the immediate origin of its 
English appellation may be a far-fetched one, but no more acceptable ex- 
planation can be found in the dictionaries, though the idea is perhaps best 
of all expressed by Skeat in his well-known '* Etymological Dictionary,'* 
in which he styles draughts *'a game of alternate moves." 

M6reUes (mylna). — There are two table games of minor note of which 
something must be said, chielly because one of them at least— as we shall 
learn in the sequel— has been lyjgarded by some writers as related, directly 
or indirectly, to the Icelandic hnefatafty while both have been practised, for 
many generations, by the Icelandic people. The flrst one is, perhaps, best 
known in general literature by its French name, mcrelles^ or niarelles. It 
was intimately associated by the earliest European writers on chess with 
that game, forming the third of the triad of table games (chess, tables, 
merelles) treated by such early writers as Alfonso X, and the authors of the 
so called ''Bonus Socius" and "Civis Bononiac" MSS at Florence, Rome and 
elsewhere. The last two of these old works, so far as the space they devote 
to chess goes, have been ably edited and commentated both by Von der Lasa 
and Van der Undo; but very little attention has been hitherto paid to the 
portions occupied by the two other games, this being especially true of the 
merelles section. 

We shall nevertheless endeavour to treat this />/6-e//e?6- (or *' morris-game" 
as it may be styled, for distinction's sake, in English) with some of its 
varieties, as completely as we may, considering that no work, or even essay 
— of a general tenor— consecrated to its history and character has yet been 
published, and that we must therefore depend upon driblets of information 
—always scanty of detail, and nearly always inaccurate— ^rawn from many 
sources. It ought to be premised that the table game called ^* morris" belongs 
to the class which has received the generic title of ^^ line-games," or games 
in which the men are placed and played on lines and not 
on spaces (that is, neither on ** squares" nor "points"). 
To this class it is supposed that many games familiar to 
the older Mediterranean lands appertained. It may bo fur- 
ther premised that in the case of the morris game the lines 
arc right lines, and drawn, flrst, in order to formquadran- 
gles, and, secondly, in order to connect internally the sides 
and angles of these quadrangles. It may, moreover, render *'*^* ^• 

the following pages a little easier of comprehension if wo state that it has 
been surmised, though not proved, tliat the germ of these games was a sinclc 
simple square, with lines running from the centre of one side to the centre 
of the opposite side, and from one corner to the other corner, anHhrthe 

13 



/ 


/ 

Y 


\ 



98 CHESS IN ICE LA ND 



line of development which this game subsequently followed increased the 
number of these quadrangles from one to three, drawn concentrically, or, 
in some regions, as it would seem, joined by grouping. 

We shall put together all that we have been able to gather from different 
countries — each land by itself — relating to this long-used social diversion 
— its story, its name or names, its method or methods of play and the part it 
has had, if any, in each country's literature. The geographical arrangement 
adopted, however convenient it may be in other respects, has the disad- 
vantage of rendering repetitions unavoidable. 

We begin with Spain, because the oldest mention of the game known to 
us is Spanish, but unfortunately we are not in a position to say definitely 
what that mention is. It occurs in the important Alphonsine codex of the 
Escorial (which dates back to about 1280) — its existence therein being posi- 
tively stated both by Van der Linde and Von der Lasa, but since these wri- 
ters concern themselves solely with the manuscript's chess pages, they throw 
merely the faintest glimmer of light upon our topic. The former, in his 
largest work, (*' Geschichte,'' 1, pp. 137 and 279), only informs us that the 
MS, as left by its royal author, certainly treats of m^elles (in German, 
muhlenspiel or millespiel)^ although Van der Linde himself displays no very 
exact knowledge of what the morris gv^e is; for, on the last page just cited, 
he gives, in a general way, the contents of the codex but in a somewhat sin- 
gular manner. It consisted, according to him, of a series of " spielbiicher,** 
^'welche erstens das schach, zweitens das trictrac, drittens das miihlespiel 
(dados y tahlas) behandeln '' — thus seeming to imply that the words dados y 
tablas signify either miihlespiel^ or both trictrac and miihlespiel^ whereas the 
word dados refers to games played with dice alone, and tahlas to games 
played with both dice and men. The indefatigable Dutch scholar, in a later 
treatise (*' Quellenstudien,'' 1881), comments on the chess section of the co- 
dex much more fully than had heretofore been done, having had access 
meanwhile (not to the MS itself but) to an old transcript of some portions 
of the Escorial volume. He tells us (p. 73) that one of the games outside 
of chess described in it, is alquerque. This assertion is repeated (pp. 277-8) 
a little more in detail, and supplemented by this statement: ** Auch das mii- 
lespiel ist ein linienspiel; Alfonso hat viele varianten und spielt auch hier 
iiberall mit schachpeons" (that is, used as morris-men), but we are not 
told what, according to Alfonso, is the Spanish appellation of " miilespiel," 
— of the sort now known to the Germans — nor what the variants are of 
which his commentator speaks. Of alquerqice he tells us enough to show 
that the modern Spanish writer, whom we shall shortly cite, was greatly 
indebted for the information he gives us, to Alfonso's work. Van der Linde 
reproduces our figure 1 and informs us that it constitutes a quarter of an 
alquerque board represented in the codex, upon which that game is played 
with 2 X 12 chess pawns, placed and moved always upon the lines. Amongst 
the forms of alquerque given is one denominated iuego de cercar de liebre 
C' hare-hunt"). There is also described, as we are told, a more modern 
variety, which was played with the help of dice — or, as the codex has it, 
'* alquerque de nueve que se uiega con dados "—the modern author (Van der 
Linde) here correcting his former misunderstanding regarding dados. He 
adds that this alquerque de nueve was played with twelve white men against 
one black; but the word nueve^ although it may possibly signify either 



STRAY 1^0 TBS d9 



**new*' or "nine/* is here more likely to mean the latter, (nine men 
morris), in which case we confess ourselves unable to comprehend the 
" twelve white men against one black." Thus far Van der Linde. Tassilo 
von der Lasa, unlike Van der Linde, had the opportunity of examining 
the codex; the accuracy of the information he gives us can therefore not 
be questioned. In the pages of that great work, " Zur geschichte und litc- 
ratur des schachspiels ** (1897)— the final and finest product of a long life 
rich in many abundant literary harvests— he comments on the chess 
writings of the Spanish monarch. Introductory to his treatment of the sub- 
ject he says: "Der codex ist ziemlich umfassend und beschaftigt sich neben 
schach mit verschiedenen spielon, wie wiirfel, miihle, trik-trak, jedoch nicht 
mit damespiel. Das schach macht aber bei weitem den gr5ssten theil des 
ganzen aus**-(p. 116). 

The only further addition, and that a too slight one, to our knowledge 
of the Escorial codex, comes from a modern Spanish source. We find it in 
the remarkable, and, in many respects, valuable treatise of Josd Brunet y 
Bellet, entitled "El Ajedrez** (Barcelona, 1890). The volume contains a 
chapter on the ** Libro de don Alfonso el Sabio " (pp. 243-268), in which, 
however, the author, like preceding writers, has very little to say about any 
other game than chess. That little occurs when he is describing (pp. 263-4) 
the miniatures which adorn the Xlllth century MS. He observes that in the 
supplement (called by Van der Linde "Book IV") are 14 miniatures illustra- 
ting some odd varieties of chess, as well as some other games, amongst them 
five belonging to the pages devoted to alquerque^ frOm one of which he 
quotes this inscription: ^^Esto es ell alqtterque de dece que iuega con todos 
sus trebeios." This means: "This is the alquerque of twelve, which is 
played with all its pieces." "Alquerque of twelve" most likely refers to a 
kind of alqtterque played with twelve men. Then the modern writer contin- 
ues by saying that this game is called in Castilian tres en ray a, and in Cat- 
alan marro^ "del cual hablaraos en capitulos anteriores." He notes that 
Alfonso speaks of the pieces as trebeios (modern trehejos)^ a name which is 
still sometimes given to the pieces at chess. 

Turning next to the anterior chapter to which the author of "El Ajedrez" 
has alluded, we shall try to give a tolerably complete abstract of its earlier 
paragraphs, although we shall find but little relating to the actual morris 
game as we of English speech understand it. In fact all that we may bo 
able to glean in regard to the nomenclature of the Peninsular mSrelles will 
not make it possible to draw any certain deductions as to its character, 
much less to present any clear or logical account of the game as played by 
the Spaniards, or to comprehend its technical terms. Brunet y Bellet fol- 
lows his second chapter, in which he treats of "El juego en tiempo di los 
romanos," with an appendix, or extra chapter (pp. 204-211), which he begins 
by alluding to the well known work on chess of the Sicilian Carrera (1617) "« 
who, he tells us, applied the name of "line games" (giuochi di riga^ or in 
Spanish, juegos de raya) to all varieties of this category of table games, 

^^ " II gioeo degli seftcehl di D. Pletro Carrera con due discoril 1' ono del Padre D. Olo. 
BatUiU Cbernbino, 1' altro del Dott. Mario Tortelli. In Mllltello 1617.'* The book is one of 
the claMlea of ehess. The Engllah translation of William Lewis (London 18St) varies In its 
arrangement and is slightly abridged. Carrera was the last of the great Italian chess writ- 
ers of the 16th-17th eenturiee (Polerio, Oreeo, Oiannxloi Salrio, Carrera). 



100 



CffESS IN ICELAND 



amongst them being a kind of draughts {damas)^ played on a table *^ divided 
into triangles by lines" as in the existing marro grande, and with sixty 
pieces half white and half black, which is styled [by the ancients] gram- 
mismiis or diagrammismiis or gramma — this last word signifying "any sort 
of line/* "*This game/ says Carrera, 'is to-day unknown, but there was 
formerly played, and is still actually played, a similar one with twelve white 
men and twelve black; but it is necessary to note that this game is diverse 
from that which the Sicilians call marrella^ and the Spaniards damas/ He 
then describes the method of playing one of the riga games, which he as- 
serts is styled riga di ire, and which is one that children play everywhere, 
drawing the board upon a stone, brick or plank, or even marking its out- 
lines on the earth, each player employing three men— never more. This game 
is called in the Catalan dialect mar^-o, and in Castilian tres en raya. Car- 
rera comprises under the name of giuochi delta riga all those games which 
are played upon a flat surface marked in lines of one form or another, and 
using a greater or less number of men/' The game described by Carrera, 
as reported by Brunet y Bellet, it will be seen, is the English *'three men's 
morris'* (see fig. 1). 

In spite of the two argumentative paragraphs which the Spanish writer 
then bases upon Carrera's use of the word damas^ it is quite evident that 
the Sicilian's employment of the term was the result of ignorance, for damas 
means, and meant even in Carrera's time, the game of draughts. Resuming, 
Brunet y Bellet declares that in the days of Carrera the Sicilians might have 
employed ttiarreUa or niarelle for the Spanish (juego de) damo^— played 
on a chess board — but that at the present time the Italians understand by 
marelle the Spanish (juego de) marro^ that is to say (giuoco de) riga, 
with twelve white and twelve black men, called in Catalan castrOy a name 
which is equally applied in Castile to that game. It is also known as 
alqiierque or tres en raya — Just as Carrera calls both the games giuoco 

de riga^ and just as the Catalans 
apply that of marro equally to 
the line-game of twenty four 
men, and to that of six — three 
white and three black — the latter 
being tres en raya among the 
Castilians. 

All this seems unnecessarily 
perplexing, but we get from the 
final lines a clear idea that the 
simple, single-squared '^ three 
men morris" is surely known in 
Spain. The author, however, 
makes confusion worse confoun- 
ded' by inserting in his text the 
design of what he labels a board 
for ''^alquerque or marro of twelve 
men," which we copy (flg. 2). 
Now this board is made up by 
uniting four of the little "three men morris" boards of Tuscany (or 
Italy, and other lands) or, what is the same, four of Hyde's copped-erown 




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102 CHESS IN ICELAND 



other. The aim of the game consists in the placing, by one player, on some 
one of these right lines, his own three men, and the skill ofthe game consists 
in preventing the other player from accomplishing the same purpose with 
his men.** The Spanish definition is followed, as is customary, in the earlier 
editions of the Academy's dictionary, by a brief Latin one, which in this 
case reads: "Puerorum ludus lineis transversis in quadrum dispostis.*' It 
will be seen that the Academy's definition seems to be, so far as the board 
is concerned, a description of the alquerque of Brunet y Bellet (four small 
squares making one large one). Alquerque^ in the same lexicon, is explained 
to be identical with ires en raya. The incomprehensible thing in the definition 
just cited is that, while Brunet y Bellet speaks of the board as used for the 
**' alquerque or marro of twelve men,** the phrase *'his own three men" {les 
tres tantos proprios), in the Academy (and other late) dictionaries, implies that 
each alquerque player had (as in the smallest morriagame) but three pieces 
— which looks impossible. The statement may be only one of those examples 
of confusion, through ignorance, on the part ofthe Academical lexicologists, 
of which we have already seen so many in this volume. 

In the voluminous "Diccionario enciclopedico hispano-americano,** recently 
published at Barcelona, we are referred under alquerque to tres en raya, and 
under the last word of that phrase (XVII, 1895) we find this definition : " Jnego 
de muchachos, que se juega con unas piedrecillas 6 tantos, colocados en un 
cuadro dividido en otros cuatro con las lineas tiradas de un lado k otro por 
el centre, y anadidas los diagonales de un dngulo 4 otro. £1 fln del juego 
consiste en colocar en cualquiera de las lineas rectas los tres tantos proprios 
y el arte del juego en impedir que esto se logre interpolando los tantos con- 
traries.'* This, it will be noticed, is almost a word for word repetition of the 
description given in the lexicon of the Spanish academy, and, as we said In 
quoting that, though slightly inexact, it certainly refers to Brunet y Beliefs 
alquerque played on four united three men morris boards ; it even reproduces 
the Academy's erroneous "los tres tantos proprios." 

Of what we, outside of Spain, understand by the nine (or twelve) men 
morris, with the board of three concentric squares, we discover nothing 
certainly in the recent lexicographical works which relate to the Spanish 
language. As to another word cited by Brunet y Bellet, marro, its sole 
signification knovn to the present generation is as the title of an athletic 
sport described in the "Diccionario enciclopedico*' in these words: "Juego 
que se ejecuta hincando en el suelo un bolo u otro objeto, y, tirando con el 
marr6n, gana el que lo pone mds cerca.'* The dictionary ofthe Academy under 
marro, gives, not only the game here mentioned, but another plainly more 
violent athletic exercise, in which one band of players confronts another in 
a sort of tournament. It seems, therefore, that as the name of a table-game, 
marro is no longer used in Spain, unless dialectically. 

Hyde, one^f the historians of chess, in his chapter entitled "Historia 
triodii "—of which we shall have a good deal to say when we reach the subject 
of the morris game in England— remarks that certain writers state that the 
game is called in Spain alquerque, but that some other writers, and among 
them Corvarrubias, apply that name to chess, or draughts, but that alquerque, 
as he proposes to show afterwards, is the Arabic name of m&reUes. " From this 
we can form an idea" says the wise Hyde, "how great are the errors of 
authors in assigning and explaining the names of games." 



STRAY NOTES 103 



Little information, but an abundance of misinformation, as to the game 
is to be drawn from the larger and better bilingual dictionaries of the present 
time. For instance, in recent editions of Salva^s French and Spanish dic- 
tionary (1898), we have, in the French part, m&reUe (singular) interpreted by 
ires en raya^ "juego de muchachos," while the plural merelles is rendered by 
^*'cinciacos (otro juego di muchachos)/* Tres en raya can surely not signify 
the French m^clle (singular). In the Spanish part we find alquerque rendered 
"mdrelle, espcco de jeu de dames'' — a repetition of an old piece of inexactness 
criticised and condemned even as far back as the days of Hyde. Under tres 
en raya again we find the definition, merelle^ **jeu d' enfant qui consiste a 
sauter d cloche-pied en poussant avec le pied dans un sens prescrit un palet 
en des lignes circonscritcs : ces lignes elle-memes.'' This is only a blunder 
in the French-Spanish part repeated. We can find nowhere that tres en raya 
ever has in Spanish the meaning of the French m^relle (singular), which is 
properly that of the English children's game, *' hop-scotch." 

In considering finally the whole question of the morris game in Spain, 
onl is almost inclined to think that of the two forms of the larger merelles 
involving three squares, one drawn within the other, neither has ever existed 
in that country. We find, for instance, that no one of those who have written 
about the codex which owes it existence to Don Alfonso gives any hint of 
the treatment of either of these forms in that famous work. Von der Lasa, 
in noticing other early codices, often alludes to the presence or absence of 
the morris positions, and occasionally characterises the game found in them 
as the *4arger " merelles. He has however nothing to say about any mention 
of the game as he understood it, in the Escorial MS; but the strongest neg- 
ative evidence is that of Brunet y Bellet, who supposably has had frequent 
opportunities of studying the royal compilation. He takes pains to copy in 
his book the board of four united squares {alquerque), and we may reasonably 
suppose that had there been any markedly different kind of what he follows 
Carrera in calling juegos de raya, he would have also reproduced the board 
upon which it was played. Certainly, as has been already hinted, we discover 
no trace in the Spanish lexicological works of any other sort of merelles 
than the three men morris and its quadruple, alquerque. If it be indeed 
true that Spain has never got beyond the three men morris and the com- 
posite alquerque, that fact will have great weight in discussions upon the 
origin of the game, for apparently this shuts out India and Arabia as 
probable home-lands of merelles. Still, in this connection, one thing must 
be much more carefully considered than has hitherto been the case, and that 
is the derivation of the word alquerque. The latest Spanish authorities make 
two rubrics of this vocable. Under the first it is referred to ires en raya as 
a synonym, in the second we are told that it signifies the space in an oil 
mill into which the **must" of the olive is placed between the two pressures 
which it undergoes. Both are explained as coming from the same Arabic 
root, or possibly from two Arabic words of intimate connection. The first 
syllable is the article al {el), the other, kark or harik. The editors of late 
issues of the Spanish Academy's dictionary think that the Arabic root might 
mean "flat surface." From the interrogative sign which follows this etymo- 
logical suggestion— which however is omitted by later makers of dictionaries 
— it would appear that the question has not been very thoroughly investigated. 
We can therefore only treat it in a purely guess-work way, and say that, 



104 CHESS IN ICELAND 



if the Spaniards adopted an Arabic name for a certain flat surface to be found 
in oil mills, and if they then applied that name to a game played on a flat 
surface (perhaps largely on the **flat surfaces'' of the oil mills themselves), 
it would hardly be considered an invincible argument for the eastern origin 
of the game. 

If in Italy the mSrelles game is not heard of quite so early as in Spain, 
yet it is not far behind in point of time; while, on the other hand, it seems 
to have been cultivated in the central Mediterranean peninsula to a greater 
extent than in the western, and elaborated into a pastime of higher distinc- 
tion. Its first mention, so far as we know, is in the works of the pseudon- 
ymous ** Bonus Socius'' and "'Civis Bononiae" — writings which have been 
happily criticised by Van der Linde as the "Acaddmies desjeux" of the 
middle ages, since in them are treated the three most esteemed table-games 
of that remote day. Nicholas de (Saint) Nicholai, who called himself "Bonus 
Socius,'' if not an Italian, of which there seems to be little doubt, was at 
least a resident of Northern Italy ; though it is proper to add that no place 
called San Nicola (or Nicholai) has yet been identified as his possible home 
within the limits of the Italian territory. If this " Saint'' were omitted, Nicola 
di Nicola would be simply "Nicholas, the son of Nicholas," or in English 
"Nicholson." In his brief general preface to his compilation, he tells us 
that his book treats "tarn dc ludis scaccorum, aloarum, quam ab ctiam mar- 
rollorum." To be specially noted here is that the last word is not feminine, 
but is written as if derived from the singular "marrellus" or "marrellum;" 
Von der Lasa, indeed, cites an old plural, merelHM^ The Ludus alearum 
was of course the game of tables. Many transcripts of the Latin text of this 
work are in existence, and not a few codices of the French rendering in 
Florence, Rome, London, Paris, Brussels and Wolfenbiittel. The German 
translations are in the shape of extracts or abstracts. 

Not very much later came the second similar production — that of the 
"Civis Bononiae," who not only informs us that he is a citizen of the North 
Italian Bologna, but also records his name in some enigmatic verses prefaced 
to liis work, concealed, however, in so clever a way, that none of the many 
wlio have studied the lines have succeeded in drawing aside the veil.**® 
Transcripts of this work, also in Latin, are not uncommon, but, unlike its 
predecessor, it has never been rendered into any modern tongue. In one of 
the later codices we find the title given as "Tractatuspartitorum scacchorum, 
tabularum et marellorum." Partiiorum has the meaning, in all the three 

^^ See the "FesUchrlft" of ihe Acaieraic Chess Clab of Manich (1896, p. 37), in an 
essay by Von der Lasa ou roediifval chess, iuc]iidiug au admirable accoaut of the early 
MSS from that of Alfonso on. 

fzo For these Lottin rhymed stanaas, which are six in number, see Van der Linde*e 
''Quellcnstudieu" (pp. lSS-184). The iines bearing upon the author** cognomen and resi- 
dence are those of the fifth stansa and the first line of Ihe sixth : 

Ilec hulus opuscoli scries est tota. 
Quia sim scire poteris tradens tot iguota. 
Versum principiis sillabas tu nuta 
Rorundera media littera romota. 
Civis sum Bononiae ista qui collegi. 

There are many of these enigmatic utterances in medlseval LaX\n literature. It would seem 
«8 if one familiar >vltb that field might Interpret the sense here ooneealed. 



STRAY NOTES 105 



games, not o( parties but of *' positions" — positions, or problems, in chess 
coming first in both of these early compositions, followed by like positions 
in the games of tables and m^elles. In one of the ** Bonus Socius" Latin 
MSS at Florence, if we understand Van der Linde's account of it correctly, 
(**Quellenstudien" p. 184) the author, in addition to his "Indus marellorum," 
enumerates several other names given to the game; tavella^ tria^ fUetto. Ta- 
vella may or may not be a misunderstanding, but the Latin ^'^tria^"" like 
the Greek tptoBiov, is found with this meaning in some dictionaries, while 
fUetto is in Italian one of the ordinary modern appellations of the game. 
Tlie surprising thing is that this last name should go back, seemingly, to the 
XlVth century. In that age, to judge by these illuminated records, our mor- 
ris game had a splendour to which in later times it has never attained. 
For the codices of these Nbrth Italian *'Acaddmies" are in general hand- 
somely, even luxuriously, executed, with miniatures and other brilliant dis- 
plays of colour. Those of Italian execution are even outdone in this respect by 
some of the French vellums. It is plainly to be seen that they were in- 
tended for the use of courtly circles, or for the homes of the nobility — me'- 
relles in the XlVth and XVth centuries, thus sharing the aristocratic asso- 
ciations to which chess and tables had long before become accustomed. 
When we look, however, at one of the re*dactions of the "Civis Bononiae,*'— 
the remarkable volume belonging to the Victor Emmanuel library at Rome 
— wc are struck at once by the appearance of the pages devoted to the md- 
relles game. The exterior lines of the board are often, by a sort of double 
lineation, drawn in two colours. The m^elles pieces, in those days, had 
their own peculiar names, something after the manner of those used in chess. 
Each player ruled over the movements of "moons,'' "stars," "shields," 
"crosses," "squares," and "rounds" (of'discs). The moon is designed as 
a crescent orb; the star has long, shimmering rays; the shield is triangular; 
the cross is of the Greek form; the squares and rounds are not outlined, but 
are solid bits of colour. In Latin these names are luna^ stella^ scutum, crux^ 
quadratus, rotundus. Generally, in these codices, the collection of m^elles 
positions begins, without any title, or prefatory remarks, with the condi- 
tions of the first problem, as in the Paris Latin MS (National Library 10287— 
formerly 73190, pp. 173-184)— one of a very gorgeous character: *•'' rubei primo 
trahunt et rubeus rotundus nunquam movebiter, nisi semel ; et si bene ludatur 
neuter vincit."' The final position In the volume bears the following inscrip- 
tion: "5i aurei trahunt suani crucem^ rubei revertentur cum quadro^ et 
capicnt scutum^ vel e converso ; si trahunt lunam, i^hei capient stellam vel e 
convei'so; et postea in omtii tractu capiet quadrus^ et vincient rubei."'' It will 
bo seen that the players (or their men) are styled red and gold instead of 
white and black, as at chess, which increases the magnificence of the dia- 
grams, even if it does not add to the dignity of the game. 

It is remarkable that a casual examination of several of these MSS, which, 
although at first composed in Latin, originated in mediaeval Italy, and many 
of which wore written down by Italian scribes, should yield such a scant 
amount of information as to the rules of the game. The names given to the 
pieces are, as we have said, six in number. If the names were not dupli- 
cated, this would seem to decide in favour of six pieces for each player, 
thus not according with any variety of m&relles known to us. But some of 
pieces are found occurring twice in a single position, and it looks as 

14 



106 CHESS IN ICELAND 



if some of them (namely the '* squares'* and 'Miscs'") sometimes occupied 
the board even to the number of three or four. So far as we have been 
able to ascertain, none of the solutions given help us more than very slightly 
as to the character of the play. We are told that the gold takes the moon, 
or that the red captures a cross, but by what sort of movement this action 
is performed, we cannot always even guess. The same is true of the posi- 
tions given at the game of tables, and we may almost say the same of the 
chess problems, except that in the last case we are aided by many other old 
records relating to the game. Possibly a wider study of this singular pro- 
duction, especially of its little known versions in French, might aid us in 
ascertaining the number of men and the laws of the game. 

After this period of brilliancy, m4reUes^ so far as we can learn, drops 
out of literature in Italy, but the game continues to be played by the people 
in more than one of its forms. Without recourse to the dialects, we find 
the following appellations given to it in the encyclopedias and dictionaries: 
giuoco di mulino^ tavola di mulino, filo^ fUetto^ tavoletta, snierellij /Wo-mu/tno, 
scaricalasino^ and mulinello. Some of these evidently relate only to the 
"three men morris," or the smaller m^relles, such as tavoletta^ scaricalasino, 
mulinello, while others, like fUetto^ are seemingly used for any of the varie- 
ties. Scaricalasino (literally "unload the ass*') may have suggested itself 
from the similarity of molino (mill, mulino being an alternative orthography) 
and mulino (little mule)— asses and mules being, too, the customary carriers 
of corn to the mill. Now-a-days, we believe, scaricalasino is more often em- 
ployed in the sense of the English ** leap-frog,'* justSism^elles {merelle) in 
French has come to be the name for "hop-scotch.** Apparently, too, the 
compound filo-mulino is the title of a frequently occurring position in the 
game, but has grown to be used Occasionally of the game itself. The most 
singular word in this list is perhaps smerelli^ which occurs in the XVIIIth 
century, and possibly still earlier. Whether it be allied to m&relles we are 
not informed ; even in the pretended etymological dictionaries no derivation 
is suggested. It is noteworthy that the appellation merelles ("ludus marel- 
lorum**), which' occurs in the very first writings on the subject composed in 
Italy, should not have found its way into the Italian language as well as 
into the French. In regard to this, as to other related matters, it is to bo 
hoped that some Italian linguistic scholar will be able to carry these hasty 
researches to a more satisfactory result. 

Giovanni Gherardini, in his " Supplinienlo a vocabolarj Italiani** (III., 
Milan, 1854), gives the phrase giuocare a /ilettOy of which he says: "Houdito 
diro in Toscana e' ginoca a filetto, per significarc che parco e strctto vive in 
tutte le sue cose con molta cconomia. Lo scherzo consiste su '1 filare sottile; 
o pure 6 tratto da un giuoco di quosto nomc, dctto altramente ^fii/oco di smerelli 
tacola di molino, e presso i Francosi '•jeude mdrelles," ** In the "Dizionario 
della lingua Italiana** of Tommaseo (1869), the largest work devoted to the 
vocabulary of the Italian tongue, we find under filettoi "Chiamasi cosl una 
sorta di giuoco detto anche giuoco di smercllV^ — citing here as an authority 
Fanfani, a contemporary lexicographer. This is followed by a few lines 
endorsed by the initials of one of the editors (Meini) explaining "gioeare a 
fllctto:** "il qual giuoco si fa su una tavola simile alia Dama, dovesonoso- 
gnati dci qnadrati sopra alcuni dei quali, chi giuoca cerca di disporre tre 
pedine in flla; nol che consiste la vincita. Far filetto. Ho fatto filetto."' In 



STRAY NOTES 107 



saying that m&relles is played on a board like a draught-board, the writer 
ought to tell us how great is the similarity he wishes to imply. In the case 
of these two games, both boards (like all other boards) are flat, and it is 
also true that both are quadrilateral in shape. Here certainly their similar- 
ity ends. 

The modes of playing the various sorts of the morris game now prevalent 
in Italy, may be gleaned from a very recent publication of the "Hoyle'' or 
"Acadtoie des jeux'' class by J. Gelli, entitled "Come posso divertirmi?'* 
(Milan 1900). It includes fox-and-geese in its chapter devoted to **Il muli- 
nello" (pp. 226-233, figs. 103-107)— but that game we shall examine in sub- 
sequent pages. In the German dictionaries we sometimes find the word 
doppelmuhle^ or the double-morris game, played on an enlarged board, and 
having a greater number of men and "points'* than the simpler game. In 
the same way, the Italian writer styles his various kinds of mdreUes simple 
mulinello {mulinello semplice)^ double mulinellOy and so on. The simple sort 
IS, of course, the three men morris, of which we have the following description 
(see fig. 1): "The game oi mulinello [literally "little mill''], a diversion for 
children when it is simple, for adults when it is complex, is styled also 
{giuoco del) filetto and {giuoco della) tavola, and is played, in all its varieties, 
by two persons. The mulinello semplice board is formed by the sides of a 
square, by interior diagonals, and by two medial lines parallel to the sides. 
The points at which the lines intersect, or join each other, are nine in 
number, and represent the 'squares' (or 'points' occupied by the men). The 
board may be drawn on paper, on the ground, or on the flat surface of a 
table; the two players furnish themselves each with three pebbles, three 
small balls, or three pawns (counters) of different colours, so that those 
belonging to the two adversaries be easily distinguishable. The first player 
is decided by lot, and in successive parties the winner of the preceding 
encounter has the opening play. The opening player places a man on one of 
the points, the second player one on another, and so on. The first combatant 
having entered all his men, when it next becomes his turn, moves one of 
them, following always the lines, and going from one of the nine "points" 
to an adjoining one. His adversary does the same, and the gamd continues 
until one of the players succeeds in ranging his three men in a line, either 
right, horizontal, vertical or diagonal. The game ought to be won by the first 
player, provided he places his first man at the central point, as it rarely 
happens that the first pawn or man played by his adversary ever succeeds 
in securing that point. 

The mulinello doppio has a board with which we have never chanced to 
meet in Italy, or, in fact, anywhere else— except in some very recent pub- 
li<*ations like the present— although the compiler of the book claims for it 
great antiquity. It is cbmposed of two concentric squares (that is, one 
within the other). The space between these squares is divided by twelve 
right lines into twelve small squares, the points at which the lines join 
being twenty-four in number, giving that number of "points'] or "houses" 
for the men (fig. 3). But we will repeat the author's description in full: 
"The mulinello doppio was a favourite enjoyment of the ancient Greeks. The 
board is composed of two concentric squares, the space between them being 
divided into equal quadrangular portions by [twelve] right lines, which join 
the ( • at twenty-four points, forming therefore twenty-four * points* 



CHESS IN ICELAND 



lie arranges on the flvo points of o 



for the men. Of the latUtr. each player is provided with five of the ssme 
colour {different, however, from the colour of those of his adversary), which 
•i^„rr.n„», nn IK- «,.- „„._.. -r __g ^y^ ^^ jii^ larger or outer squares (20, 
21,32,23,24). On the opposite side 
of the larger square the adversary 
places his (1,2,3,4,5). Each then 
advances his men, alternately, from 
point to point, always following the 
lines, and when one of the players 
has enclosed one or more of Ais 
adversary's pieces (rendering it 
impossible to move it farther), the 
man is considered captured. The 
game is ended when one party — 
*' therefore the winner— has captu- 
red all the men of his opponent." 
The mulinetlo triplo is the mor- 
ris board commonly used in Ame- 
rica, but which seems to us to be 
infrequent, at the present time, in 
es which 
forming the squares, but the diagonals 
The board is formed of ihre 



IC 7 11: 



Kd, 3. 

Europe, especially on the continent, having not only the 



middle points of the 
Joining the angles. The doscriptii 
trie squares with parallel sides [see Rt?. 4]. 
Eight lines unite the angles and the middle- 
points of the sides. Once thi.s game enjoyad 
an extraordinary popularity — ao great that 
even now it is found drawn on tlic opposite 
side of many choss boards. Each ]>laycr lias 
nine men (in colour unlike those of the other 
player) and places, or enters them, alter- 
nately with his adversary, upon any of the 
twenty-four 'points' formed by the inter- 
secting lines. Then, by successive moves, 
he tries to form a flCello, that is, a line of 
three men, of the same colour, arranged 
either horizontally, or vertically. This line 
is called a flto, or flleiio. Every time a player maiics a filctto, he can select 
and remove from the board one of his opponent's men, respecting, however, 
those with which his adversary has already formed a similar flletlo. When a 
player has no more than four men left on Ihe board ho is declared the loser." 
The miilinello quadrupio is, singularly enough, the alqiiergae of the Span- 
ish writer, Brunet y Bcllet [see fig. 2]. "It is formed," says the Italian 
compiler, "of four tnulincUi sempUci. Each player has five men, and the 
game la won by him who places all five In a straight line." The number of 
"points" is twenty-five. The author of this new Italian "Hoyle" commits 
an evident blunder or two. In his natiinello doppio he says that the number 
of lines forming the small squares is nine, whereas a glance at his board 
would have shewn him that they were twelve. He apparently has no knowl- 
edge of the board (three concentric squaroB without the diagonal lines drawn 




r7. r ^ w*i:s 



cikesiF ^i^rfs -pnio. m: "tie •"amm -met- :2c ~ ^- ^iiE 
fcs cf w^^ -wfi taatl Mwg suss ^w-m. ~ 






X lit- -X. "X 
-i 



4c irmaed. '±ut 'Si^niK 
It m 5i»xa€ -»^ifi 

ho s^txm^ii 3 ±rvc i4 Asiii; T 
OQDters fa a nnr 1^3*111 uut 
i sajiie if»». Aaic -tun m 
r of iC E»t^ IS -^ijft t#!snK- 

of the tftk*** : ««ii^ 1^ ti4e 



C k 



i»>i «M» aa «(i^i**aii!3fr toill f&l ii«» -fiiie 






i£t.' 




no CHESS IN ICELAND 



one moves alternately a counter one step, in whatever direction along the 
lines, endeavouring to make a filetto {far filetto)^ that is, to place three 
counters on one line, and to prevent his adversary from doing the same. 
Naturally one player may be able to complete a filetto even before ho has 
entered all his men, if, by oversight, his adversary does not cover the third 
point of a line on which the former has already entered two counters." The 
only error noticeable here is the assertion in the first lines that he who first 
places three men on the same line wins the game. But the writer's subse- 
quent description shews that this is merely a bit of carelessness. The writer 
finally says that there is a more simple filetto game— and here he gives a 
representation of the three men morris board [fig. 1]—** which is played with 
three white and three black men, in an analogous manner, but mostly by 
children/' We must content ourselves with the citations we have made in 
reference to the existing state of m6relles in Italy. Of course our investi- 
gation has been in no wise thorough. There is a large literature devoted to 
social games; only a few of the works which it embraces having come under 
our notice. From many provinces we have been able to gather no reports — 
in fact all that we have stated with any definiteness relates principally to 
Tuscany and Lombardy. But what we have brought together leads us to 
believe that the ordinary three men morris game, and the ordinary nine 
men morris game — the board having no diagonal lines — are pretty certainly 
still known in most parts of the peninsula. Some of the other varieties — 
treated in the very modern works on games — may be of long standing and 
popular in portions of the Italian domain, but we have discovered no certain 
evidence of it. 

In glancing at the morris play in France, we ought properly to follow 
the plan pursued in our remarks on this game in Italy, and begin with the 
French version (or versions) of the treatise ascribed to Nicholas de (Saint) 
Nicholai (*' Bonus Socius'*) which furnish here, as on the Italian side of the 
Alps, the earliest information on the subject. The notices relating to the 
French codices, however, are very few and very scant. That the compilation 

[IS] rette, ehe •Mntersccano in 24 puntl, formando perci6 24 caaelle. (Mmcud glnocatore h 
proTviflto di 5 pedlne di uno stesso colore, ma diverso da quello delie pedine aTTersarle, che 
dispone sopra le caaelle di uuo dei laU del quadrato graude. 8ul lato opposto 1* avvertario 
dlatribulsce le sue. Di mo««a in mo««a, alternandosi i giaoeatori, fanno aTansare le loro pe- 
dine, seguendo sempre le linee, e quando nno ha fatto priglone una o piii pedine aTTertarie, 
emtrlngendola a non piii muoyeni, ne fa preda di giaoco e la mangia. La partita i Tint* da 
coltii che ha tMngiato tutte le pedine avversarie. 

S. II mulineUo triplo d rappretentato dalla fig. 4. Kisulta formato da tre qaadrati eon- 
centrici co* lati paralleli. Otto rette oonglangono g\\ angoli e le nieti dei latl. Uiui voUa 
qaotto ginoeo godeva di un favore atraordinario, tant* ^, che pure oggi ai trova disegnato aopra 
le dam«, dalla parte oppoata alia aeaechiera. Ciaacun ginooatore diapono di 9 pedine dt eo- 
lore diTerso di quelle aTversarie, e le colloea, alternandoai eon V ayyersario, aopra una delle 
S4 caaelle, formate dalT iucontro delie varie rette. Qaindi, con mosse aueeeaaive oerea di fare 
fiUttOf di diaporle, eio^, in uiauiera ehe tre pedine dello ateaao colore formino una Unea 
oriuontaU o vtrticale detto filo e filetto. Ogui volta ehe un giuooatore fa fiUUoy a ana aoelta 
prende una pedina aTTeraaria dal ginoeo, riapettando, per6, quelle che formano un fiUtto» 
Qoando un giuocatore non ha piii ehe quattro pedine d dichiarato perdeute. 

4. II muUnello qwidruplo risulta formato da un quadrato che comprende quattro moli- 
nelli semplici. Ciaacun giuocatore diapone di cinque pedine c vince quegli che per primo rieaee 
a colloearle d*acchito o eon moaae aucceaaive, tutte e cinque in linea retta, orixsontale, vertl* 
eale o diagonale (Ag. S). The paragraphs which follow, relating to foz-and-geeae, we cite on 
» later page. 



STRAY NOTES 111 



as rendered into French, was popular, is shown by the number of transcripts 
still existing, but how much of this popularity was due to any one of the 
three games therein treated — rather than to any other — it is of course im- 
possible to say. The earliest French codices date from the very first years 
of the XlVth century, and none is later than the XVth. Two are preserved 
in Paris, one in Montpellier, another in the. invaluable collection of books 
at Wolfenbiittcl, founded by the duke Augustus of Brunswick-Liineburg, who 
himself compiled the library's first catalogue, and who, under the pseudonym 
of*' Gustavus Selenus,*' composed the great folio on chess which was published 
in 1616.*** Another of these French codices— all of which are vellums— is 
in a private collection in England. So meagre is our information in regard 
to them, that we are only certain of one thing, namely, that the rather fan- 
tastic names given to the m^elles men in the Latin MSS were retained. This 
we learn from a casual citation of two of these pieces' names, estoile and 
quaree^ found in the Fountaine MS— the one preserved in England. 

And now as to the French appellations given to the game— a matter, the 
elucidation of which has its difficulties. The word m^elles — the most com- 
mon designation — is derived by the French etymologist Scheler from the 
Latin --more immediately from the low Latin. He says: *'Le mot m&relle ou 
marelle signifie proprement le palet, le pion ou le jeton, dont on se sort pour 
le jeu; feminin de mdreau (has Lat, M&rellus); on le rattache a un type ma- 
trellus^ matrella (d'ou mairellus^ marellus)^ qui scrait un derivd du Latin 
fiiatara, mataris, sorle de javeline, mot d'origine gauloise, et dont la ra- 
cine, k juger du gadl methred, *jaculator,' exprimait Tidde de jetter." The 
final portion, especially, of this etymological note can hardly be called 
precise in its treatment of the vocable's early history. ^'^ The writer's defi- 
nition of the morris game is even more unsatisfactory, since he ignores the 
old game, or m&relles proper, entirely, and mentions only the children's out- 
of-door game, which the French style also merelle{s), but which is known 
in English as "hop-scotch," an athletic diversion practised in the open air 
upon a sort of board outlined on the ground, or floor. Littrd is more diffuse. 
For the sake of exactitude and convenience wo copy from his massive dic- 
tionary the whole section devoted to mirelles, including definition, descrip- 
tion and etymology. We shall see, in a later page, that definition I refers 
to the lesser mirelles^ and definition II to the larger, or double mireUes. 
But to proceed with the quotation: **Anciennement, table carrde, sur laquelle 
des lignes partant des angles ou du milieu de chaque cAt6 et se rdunissant 
au centre, indiquaient la place que devaient occuper, et la route que pou- 
vaient suivre les marelles ou mdraux; jeu qui se jouait sur cctte table; nom 
des jetons employes k ce jeu. II. Nom d'un jeu, qui so joue avec les pions 
et aussi avec des petits cailloux de diverses couleurs; il consiste d'un figure 
formde d'un grand carrd, plus un carr<5 plus petit renfcrmd dans le precedent, 

IS «Daa tchacb- oder Koeni(;-aplel. Vou Guatavo Scleiio, iu vier verschiedeno bUcber,** 
LfpaisD 1616. The work is largely a translation of the Italian Tersiou of tbe cbesa trvatiae 
by th« Spaniard Ruy Lopes (1584). Qastavus Sclenus is a pedantically formed anagram of 
tbe author's name and title. Compitndiuma of this work, under a variety of titles ("Pytha- 
goras rythmoroacbie," *'Ludus latruuculorum/* " Palamodes rcdivivus," *' Selenus contractus*' 
and the like), formed the principal baud-book of chess iu Germany daring the 17tb and the 
first half of tbe 18th century. 

*" This etymology goes back, as we shall see, to Hyde, the Knglisb orientalist, and eTen 
to a period much earlier. 



J I i CHESS IS ICE LA XD 



plu« un peiii carre qui oocui*e le centre de ce dernier; une ligoe pariant da 
liiiiifr'j *J*; chacun lies c^jvrt du ^rani carre Tieni sc leriuiner aax cotes du 
ir<ji*^iefiie et ptiii carre: c^ite figure est trac^-e sur un canon: quelquelbis 
leij enfanu la iraccni ru: le sabk ou sur une pderre. Lc jeu de la marelle 
consji>te k a!i;?ner sur une seule ligne les irois pions. III. Par assimilation 
de fl;/ijrt. ieu d'en Cants fait en n-aniere d'escbellc, avec de la craie. ou les 
joueurh, liiarchant a cloche-pied [=liopj»inL'], poussent du pied qui saat un 
petit palel danb cliaque espace de rechelle: la fijnire n-eo-c qui est trao6e 
Kur le Kol." The third definition, as will t'e note»J, is the sole one known 
to Scheler. — our hop-scotch. 

In his suppleifientary reir.arks, Littre 1.--.1 us that, of the two orthograph- 
ical fijrrijft. tncrcUe and uarrelle^ the fora;«.'r is the older. He has deriTed 
)iih definition I, and taken the history of the word in French, from an inter- 
estin;/ volufjjc by I^ Bordc entitled "Notice des einaux du musee du Louvre'" 
(Paris. 1><53, II, p. 381 ». We cite La Borde's historical note on the name in 
full froiij his own work : *• Ce meme mot avail ser\i antdrieuremcnt, c'est a 
dire a parti r du XIP siecle. a designer les medailies ou la monnaie de con- 
vention, de plonjb. de cuivre et quelquefois d'arjjeiit, dont chacun aval t droit 
de faire usage: a I'eglise, pour eonstater la presence des nioines aux offices; 
au inarciiu jiour prouver racquitienjcnt d'un droit: dans les travaux ei les 
ateliers, pour represcnter, a la fin d'une seiiiaine. b?s i«rix des journees, et k 
autres usages. C'/'t/iit en realite la suite et Tequivalent dcs tessercs de Pan- 
tiquite, et ces niereaux resterent dans la languc et dans I'usage Jusqu^au 
XVII!" siecle. lis etaient fails en carton, en cire. en plonib. en cuivre; les 
i/iarelleH a jouer etaient le plus souvent d'ivoire et d'os; on en a fait aussi 
de divers bois." 

As to the etyruology, Littre is very brief; he remarks that the game was 
••ainsi dito de innreau^ ou mirrau^ ou merely palet. Dans plusieurs ppo- 
vinrxis on rljt marcne pour une fausse assimilation avec marraino." Under the 
word nureav, to which he thus refers us, wc find the following still briefer 
etymology: "lias Lat. mcrcUus, dont Porigine est inconnue." 

In section I of Litlre's definition he states that the lines described on 
Ibe square start des cuujles ou du nnlieu de chaque cote, and unite in the 
middle. As he speaks of but one square, it is evident that he is speaking 
of the little (or three men) morris, and the conjunction ou should therefore 
be ct. In his section II, the definition is a very clear description of the older, 
or most uKcd form of the larger morris (sometimes called the double morris), 
for we find in it no uiention of diagonal or corner lines. But at the end of 
this section comes a striking bit of inaccuracy. The lexicographer states 
that tlic game of iiKirelles consisted in placing in a row {aligner) ox\ one and 
tlio same lino «Mes trois pions." Hut for the morris board which he has been 
describing, not three turn but nine are necessary. He has confused the nine 
men morris with the three men morris explained in the preceding section. 
As to section III, relating to *Miop-Kcotch/' it is quite certain that the sport 
received its name from the resemblance of the design drawn on the ground 
in order to play it, to the lines of the morris board. It must be remembered 
too, that the morris game was also sometimes play(?d out of doors, its board 
being likewise marked out on the turf or pavement, and perhaps on a 
largish sciale, so that this fact very likely had its influence in conferring 
upon the French ♦*hop-seotc)i" the name of mireUc^ nuh-elles. There is 



STRAY NOTES 113 



a good deal of irregularity about it, but it seems as if an effort is made 
by the French to use the singular {mirelle) for *'hop-scotc1i,*' retaining tlie 
plural {mh-elles) for the table game, although the distinction, if it exist, is 
often lost sight of. . 

One of the most important French and Italian dictionaries (that known 
as **Le nouvel Alberli " 1855, edited by Ambrosoli, Arnaiid and other Ital- 
ian scholars), informs us that in French *Me jeu de mdrelle s'appelle aussi 
le jeu du mmilin.'" This would appear to be confirmed by Von der Lasa in 
his ^^Zur geschichte und literatur des schachspiels*' (in a foot note, p. 145). 
He is criticising the French journal, "Le Palam6de." for saying (1837, p. 82) 
that the game of mirelles is no longer known or understood. He adds that 
the ** Complement du dictionnaire de TAcademie'' (Brussels 1853, p. 648) "sagt 
ganz richtig: ^ Grand jeu de la merelle; s'appelle aussi le jeu du moulin.' '' 
It is worthy of note that the dates of **Le nouvel Alberti" and the Brussels 
supplement to the French Academy's dictionary are within two years of each 
other. We liave never happened to see the morris game styled jeu de moulin 
in any French writing outside of these dictionaries; still Von der Lasa's asser- 
tion may be correct, or he may, possibly, have in mind the Italian name. 

The -game enters much more into the literature of France than into that 
of any other land; historical references to it, too, are more numerous. It has 
even been argued that Nicholas de (Saint) Nicholai was of French birth, partly 
on account of the way in which his name is given in the French versions of 
tlio *' Bonus Socius*' compilation, but this, as we have stated, is more than 
doubtful. We record here all the citations concerning inSreUes in mediaeval 
France, and in the earlier modern period, which we have been able easily to 
gather. One of the oldest is from a poem by Eustache Deschamps, a rhymer 
who was born in the first half of the XlVth century; he played a rdle of 
some importance during the reign of Charles VI, and died during that of his 
successor. He exclaims in one of his compositions: 

Gieux do dee et de mereUes, 
Vona soit toadis deveablee. 

Much later is an anonymous '"Moralite des enfants de Maintenant,** which we 
cite from VioUet Le Due's "Ancien thd&tre fran^ais'' (Paris 1854-57, III., p. 52): 

Finet: 
•Juuout) au jeo de la mertUe, 
Je eois Us da franc da carreau. 

JaHmi : 
C'esi bien dit ; le jea da mereau 
Est bioD comman ; si est la chanoe. 

A sure sign of tlic former popularity of the game in France, is the number 
of common phrases which have their origin in the practise of the diversion. 
There is a proverb, mestraire le merely the sense of which is **to play a 
losing game," **to meet with a reverse;" we find it in the old rhymed 
•MUironiques des dues de Normandie" by Benoit, which we have already 
cited (see p. 72), in which we read : 

8empres i east menuu mentrait, 
E a Qui ton dama|^ fait, 
Qai ne fast inm dil an entier 
A restorer saiu nu leger. 

16 



1 1 4 CHESS J.V ICELA \D 



Th« proverb in a^iD etupXojed 10 an old aiiotiriD<m.« *-Vie <le M Gille*:"*^ 

(M «• MMl Ilea* ki 




Jm «r«at li 
and agAin. about the Miibe time, in xhe - Miserere" <.*f iL^-n^-fi^ -ie Molieos: '^ 




In juldition to thiH prurerbial phrase, meitraire U m^re*. which refers rather 
to the piece than to the game, we hare others like tmir^ d> honme merHJe 
"to make a good Ktroke." *-to withdraw fortunately from an affair:** traire 
fauMne in^reUe, ••to play ladly:*' traiit' saure mtt-eUe, '•to play without 
lofMi;** ve pluM trait'c point ne m^eile. '•to play no longer:" changer la »#•/•- 
relle, **to change luck," (-'to alter the face of thing*'*): aroi'r la mereile. 
''to have the advantage." 

It in notable too that only in France do we come across a special word 
fur the m^rellefl-board, namely. marefUer or uiarelier — formed like rrhi- 
quie/% Ufblier — cited in several early poems and prose writings, as, for in- 
Ktanee, in a morality ntyled **I^ pclerinage de Tame:"**"' 

Gifeos <le taUe« *rt d'e«cliiqiii«ni. 
TV boolJ* 11 «rt d#> wUrOUen. 

In hiH *• Notice de« /'maux," I^ Horde thu^ defines ilie marelier: ••Table 
carr4^ sur laquelle dcs ligneff partent des angles ou du milien de chaque 
cAU^ en se r<^unissant au centre: dies indiquent la place que doivent occnper 
ot la route que pen vent suivre les trois mereaux ou marelles: le gagnant 
doit aligner sur une seule iigne lew trois Jetons: on nomme encore ce jen 
rarn* cliinois." This recalls Hyde's assertion that the three men morris is 
a very comfnun ;:anic in China. Mcrelles )>oards are frequently mentioned 
in old inventories and elsewhere, especially in the XVth century. We hear 
of one in 1448 which belonged '-a M. I). S." [that is. mon dit seigtiem\ le 
due d'Orleans] **pour jouer aux mereles dedans le bateau.*' The inventory 
of the goods of the <luc de Berry, drawn up in 1416, mentions at least twci 
in^roliers, the first is "Une tres belle table, ployant en trois pieces, en la- 
quelle est le nierelier, deux Jeux de table et Tcschiquier faiz de pourfiz de 
Ilommo, jaspre et autres picrres de plusieurs couleurs." The other seems to 
have been of simpler niaterials; *'Une table do bois inarquetee de jeu des 
eschas ot de tables et de maroliers (marellesO et y sont les tresteaux tenant 
K la ditto table." 

Du Cange (IV, 1845, j». 157) q notes, with the date of 1412, a statement 
from which wo may infer that the game was once named ludtissancti MedetHci, 
It occurs in a French document existing in the Paris archives, and tells us of 
one "Joan Aysmos, qui avait joue aux merelles a six tables, appelle le jeu 
saint Marry," but who St. Medericus (Mederic?), or St. Marry was, and why 
his name was given to the game, we have been unable to learn: it may 

"* HtfM Iho •dUiuii by MkUvl (11., Iloia S65-G6) 

'*'^ ThU Rlioiild bo r'uuud iu Van llanji'l'g vdUlun. but tliu rcferuuce we have at hand 
(('v'X-7^ m'aiuii tu bti vrruueous ur iiieuiuplctv. 

'" Killtttd by J. .1. HinrBing«r (1896): iti author wnt liuilUunit: de (iuilevillu (uflcii cited 

At "i»l'gUll«)Vl|l«'*). 



STRAY NOTES 115 



perhaps bo attributed to the resemblance of the two names, Marry and me- 
relle, since in those devout days every profession and occupation had its 
patron saint. In the statutes of several French cities occur mentions of nia- 
(irellum, marella {Itidei-e ad marellas)^ one of them bearing the date of 1404. 
In some of these documents we have the game and tlie board mentioned 
together, as in one dating from the year 1414 : '' Icellui Estienne prist lors 
toutes marelles et les getta jus du marellier." 

The little work of Bulenger on games (cited later) lias a very brief de- 
Hcription of the simplest marelles. He is writing in France in the first 
quarter of the XVIIth century. He says that the morris was then a diver- 
sion of French boys: ^^Hodie pueri apud nos ludum Madrellarum usurpant, 
in quo quatuor linese quadriC! foris, quatuor alias lineas includunt, qua3 me- 
dia linea quasi diametro secantur, et tres unus ex collusoribus bacillos to- 
tidem alius variis locis collocant, et id studiose agunt, ut tres bacillos sues 
in eadem linea continuent.'' 

Probably the fullest account of modern marelles in France is found in 
a pretentious compilation, issued not very long ago at Paris under the title 
of *' Grande encyclopddie des jeux par T. de Moulidars.*' '^Les marelles ou 
mdrelles'' occupies some pages and is, perhaps, the source from which the 
editor of the recent Milanese work of a similar character drew his materials. 
The arrangement in the two manuals is the same, but the French work is 
somewhat more complete in its descriptions, and, at the risk of much repeti- 
tion, we shall give the text in full. We have first the marelle simple (see 
fig. 1): ''Ce jeu enfantin, ancetre probable des dames, est form^ par les 
quatre c6t^s d'un carrd et par les deux diagonales et les deux lignes mddianes 
parallMes aux c6t^s. Les points dMntersection de ces huit lignes ferment neuf 
cases. Cette figure pent etre tracee sur un papier ou simplement sur le sol. Les 
joueurs, au nombrc de deux, poss6dent chacun trois pions ou trois cailloux 
de couleurs difierents ou d*une forme reconnaissable. Le premier joueur pose 
un pion sur une case, le second sur une autre et ainsi de suite alternative- 
ment. Quand un joueur a posd ses trois pions, il en d^place un, pour le 
porter sur une case imm^diatement voisine en suivant Tune des lignes; son 
adversaire en fsiit autant de Tun de ses pions et la par tie continue ainsi 
jusqu*^ ce que Tun des joueurs arrive k mettre ses trois pions sur une m^me 
ligne droite, horizontale, verticale ou diagonale. Le premier, en so pla^ant 
d*abord au centre de la marelle | that is, at the point of intersection of all 
the lines, see Ag. 1] ne pent manquer de gagner, s*il joue convenablement ; 
et Ton convient ordinairement quMl n^aura pas le droit de poser, au d^but, 
sur le centre du jeu.*' There is nothing to object to here, except the phrase 
at the beginning, ^'ancetre probable des dames'*— a title which, as we have 
seen, belongs not to m^eUes^ but to chess. But writers not overburdened with 
erudition cannot forget that the inh-elles board is to be often found depicted 
on the reverse of the chess-board, and that the chess-board is used for the 
game of draughts; so they fancy that there must be some subtle connection 
existing between the morris-game and draughts. 

We next have the double mirelles^ with a reproduction of the figures which 
we have numbered 3 and 4: *'La marelle double ou pettie des anciens grecs 
est reprdsent^ par notre fig. 3. Elle se compose de deux carrte conceniriques 
et k c6t^8 parallMes, r^unis par neuf [douze] lignes, de mani^re & former 24 
cases [points for the pieces]. Chacun des deux joueurs possMe cinq pions 



116 CHESS I\ ICRLAXD 



'I'tine coaleor recannaiffffAble. et les pUoe sar les cinq cases >r points at 
the janctions of the lines] de la ligne soperieare ou de la ligne inftrieore. 
On pooMie alternativement les pions en avant, de ease en case, en soiTant 
les li^es, Qoand nn joueur a enTeloppe one ou plosieurs pieces de PadTer- 
Miire de fa^n a les eropecher de booger. il les enUve da damier: el la partie 
continue }n%(\nk ce qne Tun des jonears n'ait plus de pions. II est pro- 
l>able que la pettu! enx le veriuble jeu de PaleoiMe* dans leqnel les histo- 
Hens ont cru voir les ^hecs on les dames." The writer then refers to the 
triple m^relles, represented in figure 4: *^La marelle triple, autrefois si po- 
pulaire, est tombee dans un ^tat d'oubli qu'elle ne merite pas. On la 
dessine ordinairement sur Ic sol et quelquefois sur une table, sor une ar- 
doise ou sur an carton. Rile se compose de troifi carrds ayant on centre 
commun et les cAtes paralleles (fig. 4). Des lignes reunissant les qnatre 
angles et les quatre cAt^ des carr^. Cliacun des deux Jouears a 9 pions 
d'une couleur on d'unc forme reconnaissableet les pose alternativement sur 
Tun des points de rencontre des lignes, corame a la marelle simple; aprte qaoi. 
il les d^place un k un. en les portant sur une case imraediatement voisine 
ot en saivant Tune des lignes. Son but est d'amener trois de ses pions sar 
une m^me ligne droite ; quand il y est par>eno. il prcnd dans le jeu de son 
adversaire, un pion a son clioix parmi ceux qui Ic genent le plus. Quand 
un joueur n'a plus que quatre pions, il n'est plus astreint k marcher de ease 
en case; il peut faire franchir a ses pions une ou plusieurs cases occupies, 
afin de so mettre sur une station inoccapee quelconque. Le premier qui n*a 
plus que deux pions a perdu la partie. On convient quelquefois que pour 
former une ligne donnant droit k une prise, il faut que cette ligne ne soit 
pas une diagonale." '^Therefore,** continues the writer, '*a line formed by 
pieces placed on these diagonals, that is to say, at points of intersection which 
are not made by lines meeting each other at right angles, are not regarded 
as giving the right to capture an adversary's man.** This last feature, as 
will be noted, makes the board (fig. 4), for general purposes, a nine man 
morris-board, instead of a twelve men morris, as the shape would indicate. 
We are thus led to the idea that the latter differs from the former (the tree 
old form), in giving the increased chances to each player of using four ad- 
ditional (diagonal) lines for the formation of ''mills,'* but that sometimes, in 
order to maintain, to a certain extent, the resemblance to the antique game, 
it is agreed that ''mills** may be laid out on those diagonal (or corner) lines, 
but that such "mills/* unlike the others, shall give the party making them 
no right to capture one of his enemy's men. Nevertheless, as we may un- 
derstand it, these additional lines would still be of some advantage for pur- 
poses of play. There seem then to bo— taking the United States into con- 
sideration—two modes of using the twelve men morris board— one being to 
play with nine men (as in the old boards without diagonal lines), the other 
to increase the number of pieces to twelve. 

It is to be observed that this French writer ignores the genuine old 
morris-board of the I4th century MSS (our fig. 5), without the diagonals 
connecting the angles, evidently knowing as little about it as does his Mi- 
lanese imitator. He proceeds, therefore, at once to treat the variety which he 
denominates the quadruple game (the alquerque): "La marelle quadruple 
(llg. 2) est formde par la juxtaposition de quatre marelles simples. Chacun 
doH deux joueurs possdde cinq pions, qu*il pose successivement sur Tun des 



STRAY NOTES 117 



points de rencontre des lignes. Pour gagner la partie, il faut arriver le 
premier k placer ses cinq pions en ligne droite/' It should be observed 
that with what appears to be a disproportionate number of men (five to a 
board four times as large as that for three men morris) there are twelve lines 
upon which *'mills,*' or rows of Ave men each, can be created; the three 
men morris players, in the simplest board, have eight lines at their disposal 
on whicli to arrange themselves. From the bareness and brevity of this de- 
scription, it seems very evident that the compiler has no very clear idea of the 
alguerquc, of which we have been unable to find any account anywhere else 
in a French book. Then follows, as in the Italian manual, the notice of fox- 
and-geese, or marelle quintuple. We cannot help thinking that the editor 
of this French manual has been largely influenced by the desire to bring 
together all the line-games of the morris, kind which he could collect from 
similar books in all languages and to classify them, rather than to give us 
those must used in France. He has, however, omitted the -simplest of all the 
forms, the "noughts and crosses'' of English boys (the **tripp, trapp, trull,'' 
of the Swedes). Meanwhile the apparent fullness of his hand-book has led 
to its translation, as we have already seen, into Italian, and as we shall 
hereafter see into Swedish — possibly, too, into other tongues. 

In England the game of morris must have existed at an early date, since 
we have the orthographic form meriU from the middle English, but it is 
not easy to discover any reference to it before the days of Shakespeare. 
The name shows that it must have come directly from France, or at a very 
early date f^om Italy, since we find no trace of an appellation having any 
such meaning as **mill." The derivation from the French seems the more 
likely, since, if it had come from the Italian, at a time when the Italians 
used the I^tin denomination {merellus)^ the Icelanders would no doubt have 
borrowed both the game and its name, as in the case of chess, from Great 
Britain. But the Icelandic denomination belongs to what we may style the 
'* mt72>cla8s " of names, showing that the game came from some other land 
than England. It is remarkable that England has produced the only account 
of the game which lays claim to any historical, philological, or philosophical 
value— that of Hyde. To that account we shall return, after an examination 
of the now adopted etymology of "morris." 

Some of the English etymologists have connected the word with a vo- 
cable of the same form found in the English compound "morris-dance," 
thus deriving it from the Spanish moro, morisco (^^moor^'" '•^moorish''), which 
would, if the derivation could be established, go far towards indicating an 
Arabo-Spanish origin for the game. Hyde gives a great number of ap- 
pellations bestowed in England upon the sport and its varieties, such as 
bushels (or bushel), marlin, three men's morals^ nine men's morals; nine 
penny miracle^ nine pin miracle ; three penny moris, five penny mo^Hs, nine 
penny moris: three pin tnerells, nine pin merells. Some of these names Hs- 
sume their special forms from the fact that the game was frequently played 
with pennies, with pins, or with tokens, instead of the usual round coun- 
ters or men. It is probable also that the names with the numerals "three" 
and "five" refer to the simple or other smaller merelles. "Morals" is, of 
cou , a closer form of the French m&i-eUes, and helps to demonstrate the 
mort de theory of the etymology of" morris." " Bushels " and " wwrKn " 
do ( p, 80 far as -we know, in any recent literature, and are pretty 



r' j^zz^^fi 






3ai«wa.-s vstoMttoai *» lie i'Ts 

V' ^lui ^pcxus. ^ KiiA.laA' ri^tr .t :afn.;nnrgt. i^ I. 

•CTi*^ ^li<« tdtiLie M '^i vsr '««£ "a ix«s i:'fcTii- mJmf^'L ft» la 

Fr^swtj. *»">^.'*. 4^.; :.jc la.'.- . >?:.* . : r .t0i.i,:ia. JLii iia: Uic lA3d 

*n'l ttwMi V!:...* ;*• xukT, "LL-r *— a_.t.* --.•--_> ^1^-^ -> :all*»i bj tae- Datch 

411/J ii.*r uit^r r.*L*: ..rj-r*. H^ "■■•-:•=? :.-c -ii'jtrr ^.^^ftni oi tlkese vord» 
4/W;^//. vn;c(i w<; nr* * .r. r, > :..:. li**.. . Aii-.nj i-::r OerzuAos the "•"*tf 
nuit^:t^^n — a^ he wr.u-- .: /.<"/» </>. -. f — :*..rAi.:xi^ n*n* i»ia4.'«« (imm-^mi /ooi) is 
appli^'J t/> tii'; K«;r;//r iuorrm ^hl:.^".. an . ;:^ cALi^c Uif^^^nuiem to the larger 
UJiutti, Hn sk\>'t\H hVkUi<i. In la- n»rit i-ara^rapii, UtIc giT«& the various Eog- 
Ifiiti rjan«<;K, •VtUuic u*ai a.i liie Ion,.!?. ,t*orfr.%, ;m'>»-u. u^erei^. are corrap- 
iioriH of lh<5 VfttnfM app<;;.at.ori. but wc ha\tr already cited his list in fuU. 
Th'jfi at tu« <;rirJ he ;^iveh »!■» thji» nofxi^crwiiat r^jmarkablt: atateiuent about the 
St,Mi%t: ar«i/in(^Ml ih#' /jhil<Jr<;n oi >ali*»bury: -Narii iiic ludus a pueris Salo- 
l»IOfi*ftthijM #;x#;n;<;ri M>h;t, 'Jii«;to hurni scheiiia><'. in cujus angulis im)>acti sunt 
Utl Iftijilh lifffuu \-' whtftUtn pill-*" qui •iefitihu> oxirahcniJi pnescribuntur. 
'/ijffii|ij<! in humiirn tuUn^x Hohjant tani altu ut ne vix retiiet extremitas extra 
hijfiiiiffi vi»MfiMla, «Ji(fWrih; «;rlt «hfntihiiK apprelienden*, nisi priiis ore applicato 
ad inMiar raniim t/jriarn rodaiii #;;uii<^uc rodendo aveiiant, priusquiim talem 
paKllliim dontlhiiN UnK^jn* lir;<jat.** AmonK ilu? Greeks, as Golias in his 
\pahh'. hfxlron fiot<»M, Ihn ii/iukj o( the ^arno was zyMw^. '"I suspect, savs 
llydn thill lh« Iniii iim<lmK ih Tj^toi^.tov, that is triviuni or tni}lex via, the 
riiAMoii Id whh'h iiatiH) will h«' himjii whon the hoard is examined.'' The re- 
nmliidnr id ilii« IliHt hikmioii in Ilyjh» ih dov<itc«l to much polyglot informa- 

lloii ahfMil llio imiiiM Ml did \^iiu\i) In KiiHKi.i, Arnuinia, among the Arabs 

wIiImIi Klvim him a rhaiii'n id ndiMrliiK Jo aiiptrrfjut' once more the Turks 

mid Iho I'nrhlaiix. Tho Honiiid hiirilon In wholly occupied with the board 
il»» nharmdiir and ori»jin. Ilo iiUo i^nm varloiin doMcriptivo passages from 
oiltuidil wriliti'M 

Al loHMlli Hio iiiHhoi (|i, liUn fjixcn iiH iw«» dniN>ingK ol' the two best 
Itiinwii hiriiiH Ml I ho mii.inr m4n*Ui<\, luiiixd.N, (ho ono noNv used in America 
i^hloh sui Milt iiiitliiiod hi itHll, HN iho Nnw KiiftlHiidorH iUk ''twelve men 
moiiiM I, mid ihi) lUiMhinl uhtHlv or »ioin'//ir oi (lo* nuuliwval MSS (oxcluU- 



STRAY NOTES U9 



of "tables" {nerdiludus, the Perso- Arabic tiard or «^-d), dice, draughts, and 
other table games, among them being our morris-game, which has a chapter 
devoted specially to it entitled "Historia triodii/' ^'^ 

We shall endeavour to give a sketch of the more important points in 
Hyde's essay, omitting much that refers only to the game in oriental re- 
gions. He sets out by telling us that the game was well known to the Ro- 
mans, but that he has been unable to find out the name by which they dis- 
tinguished it. He says that Bulenger, a French scholar, in his book on 
games, treats of tn^elles; and that he informs us that it is called madrellw 
because niateres signifies pieces of wood (haculi) according to Nonius, whence 
to-day the Gaelic word matras signifies an arrow as being a piece of wood. 
The old author Sisenna, Bulenger declares, relates that in Qaul they fought 
with maieres^ that is long darts. He tell$^ us, too, that Cyril, in his Orcek 
glossary, gives the same explanation of the word matei'es. Caesar also, in 
his *^ Commentaries,'' notices the materes, which were used in battle. Thus 
far Bulenger. *» Hyde, however, dissents from the derivation and says that 
the letter d, upon which the whole Bulenger etymology depends, does not 
belong to this root hence the word inareH cannot be deduced from matet'es. 
Moreover, at present an arrow is not called matras^ but nuxtlas. This sub- 
ject is pursued at some length by Hyde in a later note, which takes the 
form of a paragraph in the "elenchus" prefixed to the volume, in which he 
seems to think that the word matras or niatet'es has been introduced as a 
military term among the Persians and the Turks. Hyde goes on to say 
that the pieces with which this game is played are called in France me- 
relies, or mareUes as Rabelais writes it, ajid marellte, or, as Bulenger inter- 
polating a d, puts it less correctly, madrelUe. Sometimes in Prance these 
pieces are made of wood, and sometimes indeed stones are used. Cotgrave 
(the author of the dictionary) translates them itedites — stones: the game is 
sometimes played with pebbles. Csesar Oudin (t/. 1615), a royal interpreter 
in France and compiler of various grammars, tells us, not very properly, 
that in Spanish the game is called Jtteyo de tablas o piedras, because it is 
sometimes played with stones (piedrcui). Oudin elsewhere reports that some- 

"^ Tbo publicatiuu of Hydu was isnued at Oxford lu 1U91, aud is really \u four parU. 
The flrst part, of 72 unuombercd pages, consists principally of an excursus callod ** D% 
shabfludio prolegoiueua curiosa ; '* followed by a second section of 184 pages, *'Historia 
sbabludti; " then couie 71 page^, *Sbaliiludiam Tradituin in Tribus Sorlptis Hobraieis/* being 
the productions of Abraham ibn Kara and Bouseuior Ibu Ja*hja, together with the anony- 
mous treatise, "Ma*adanne roelech '* (''Deliciie reguni *'), in all of which both texts and ver- 
sions are given. This completes the first volume. The second, besides 16 pagus of prefatory 
matter, contains 878 numbered pages, aud is devoted to the minor table games. The chapter 
on the morris game oeoupies pp. S0S*214. The volumes are profusely illustrated with engrav- 
ings and folding plates, and have uow become 8ome>vhat rare. 

^ The treatise of J. C. Buleuger (1&58-16S8), " De ludis privatis ac doiuestieU vete- 
rum,** was published at Lyons 16t7. We have already extracted from it his brief descrip- 
tion of nUrtlUt, Here is his philulogical note in the original : " Madrellas, iuquam, nostri 
vocant, quia materos sunt bacuil, auctore Nouio, undo et apud nos hodi^ue vox gallica 
malra* sagitiau signtflcat, quasi baculum. SIsenua vetus auctor Qallia materibna, id est. 
talis oblougis puguat** (pp. 18-14). Bulenger Unght, at different periods, at Paris, Toulouse 
aud Pisa. L. Oornelius Sisenna was a miscellaneous writer of his day, prodaoiug works on 
the story of his time and a commentary on Plautus, among other things. He died about 
A. D. ISO. Nonius Mareellus was a Latin grammarian who lived In the 4ih or 5th century 
after Christ, and the note ou Molerts probably oooan in bia tractate *< De proprloUte ser- 
monis.'* 



120 CHESS IX ICELAND 



times in Spain this gemie bears tlic name of alquerque (wUich lie afterwards 
falsely translates as the French '^esohes'' and ''damas''). He adds tliat it 
is ''un jeu qui se fait avec des gettons,'' which seems a concise description 
of this game. A similar error is committed by Covarruvias when he re- 
stricts this name of alquerque to the game known as las danias^ that is 
draughts. This Jeu de vierelles is denominated by certain of the Italians 
giuoco di smarelli, the oldest use of that word which we have noted. But 
later on Hyde remarks that, in the vulgar Italian, the name of mareUw is 
tavola da nioliuo, wliicli accords with its German appellation, mulen (niUhlen) 
or ''dupel-mulen'' tliat is ''dupla molina/* perhaps because the lines upon 
the board resemble the little grooves which are found upon the upper sur- 
faces of mill -stones. Hyde gives this etymological suggestion, but does not 
regard it as satisfactory. He says, however, that one of the English names 
is bushels, the singular of which, he thinks, was applied to the middle or 
central part of the board — used perhaps to impound the men captured — 
and bushel in Latin is modius : he seems therefore to believe that there is 
a connection between the German nieule (as he writes the word mUhle), the 
French milieu^ and the Latin mediuiu or inedius, and that the latter has been 
confounded with the Latin moiiiu^f, from the signification of which the name 
hnahels has resulted in English. He dwells on this theme for some time, 
and then tells us that the smaller morris game is called by the Dutch 
driestricken, and the larger neyensltichen^ the former signifying three lines 
and the latter nine lines. He writes the latter element of these words 
sticken^ which we tlnd in no dictionary. Among the Germans the name 
nulochen — as he writes it {tieun Uk-herf) — meaning nine places (norem /oca) is 
applied to the minor morris game, and the name dupel-inulen to the larger 
game, as above stated. In his next paragraph, Hyde gives the various Eng- 
lish names, stating that all the forms, morols, mot^s, merels, are corrup- 
tions of tlie French appellation, but we have already cited his list in full. 
Then at the end he gives us this somewhat remarkable statement about the 
game amongst the children of Salisbury: ''Nam hie Indus a pueris Salo- 
piensibus exerceri solet, ducto humi schema(o, in cujusangulis impact! sunt 
tot paxilli lignei |" wooden pins"; (lui dentibus cxtraliendi priescribuntur. 
Cumque in humum adigi soleant tain altc ut ne vix restet extremitas extra 
humum visenda, difUcile erit dentibus apprehendere, nisi prius ore applicato 
ad instar canum terram rodant eamque rodendo avellant, priusqu^m talem 
paxillum dentibus tangero liceat." Among the Greeks, as Golius in his 
Arabic lexicon notes, the name of the game was TpioSiov. ''I suspect, says 
Hyde that the true reading is xf<:u)0'.ov, that is trivium or triplex via, the 
reason of which name will be seen when the board is examined.'* The re- 
mainder of the first section in Hyde is devoted to much polyglot informa- 
tion about the name of the game in Russia, Armenia, among the Arabs — 
which gives him a chance of referring to alquerque once more — the Turks 
and the Persians. The second section is wholly occupied with the board, 
its character and origin. He also cites various descriptive passages from 
oriental writers. 

At length the author (p. 210) gives us two drawings of the two best 
known forms of the major mirelles, namely, the one now used in America 
(which we are inclined to call, as the New Englanders do, ** twelve men 
morris"); and the original nierelle or nuirellct of the mediaeval MSS (exclud- 



STHAY NOTES 121 



ing the diagonal lines). He says of the former that it consists of twenty- 
four lines, a number obtained by counting the divided exterior lines of 
the three squares occasioned by the intersections from the sides and an- 
gles. He states that the intersections of these lines form the playing 
points. Many of the orientals omit some of these lines, which run towards 
the centre, especially those leading from the angles— by which he means 
that he has not found the twelve men morris in Eastern works. He asserts 
that the Armenians, the Arabs, of the Holy Land and of Mesopotamia, as he 
has been informed by Jeremiah the Greek priest, all use the board indicated 
in our ancient European MSS. He tells us that among the people he has 
just mentioned, the board is formed by boys on the soil, either by cutting 
the turf, or by drawing lines in the dust. Adults have a board on which 
the lines are drawn in chalk, or are marked out on a table, or with ink on 
paper. Then follows what we have named the three men morris board, over 
which he places its title in Chinese characters. This Chinese game, we are 
informed, being the simple morris (flg. 1), is practised in many parts of Europe, 
and European names are given to it. Among the Chinese it is called Che-loo^ 
that is, '*six places.'* The Persians likewise know it, the game in that part 
of Asia being played with six pieces, from which it gets its local name. The 
Irish call it ^^cashlan gherra,'' which would be in English "short-castle." 
In Cumberland and Westmoreland the name "copped-crown'* is common, 
and elsewhere in England it is sometimes drawn with a round prison in the 
centre — a receptacle for captured pieces. 

After all this, Hyde begins to tell us about the method of conducting 
the game, saying that it is played with coins, beans, pebbles, pegs, dice or 
pieces of wood, each player's men being different in colour. The country 
boys play the game on the ground. At first they decide by lot who shall 
begin, and he whom fate favours can place his pieces where he pleases, this 
being considered a great advantage. The wise ones begin by placing their 
men in the centre square, and try to take possession of that portion of the 
board; for he who controls that should always win, as those who often play 
the game know. Occupying this central place is called by the French mettre 
d cuire, as if they were placing something to be cooked in an oven. When 
it has been decided among the players who shall play first, then each one 
places his pieces singly and alternately in the angles ; each player at the 
same time trying to prevent the other from forming a line with his men, 
for whoever obtains such a series can take up a piece from his adversary, 
wherevej* he pleases, and place it in the prison. This throws light upon the 
well known passage in Ovid from which it appears that the Romans played 
the game each with three men : 

PttTYft UbelU oapit teruos ntrlnqae l«plllos, 
In qoA vidaae, Mt continaAsae saos. **" 

Hence, too, among the moderns, this game is called "Lusus Ternarius," a 
name thus descriptive of the minor form of the game. If a Uble of the larger 

*» Von der Ltsa hM a mwUrful eway '• Ueber di« grUcblseben uud rOmlseben ipl«l«, 
welcbe einlge lUmlichkeit mlt dem .cliacb batten," wblcb waa publUbod In tbe «<D«aUeb« 
HchacbMltung" (1863, pp. 16»-7«, 108-99, 125-84, 267-G4), and whlob well merlU reprinting 
In Oerman and translaUon Into Kngllsh ; but a conaiJerable part of it l« copied by Van der 
LInde (••Oe8chlchto,'» I., pp. 40-47). It U tbe flrii time tbat the tbenie ia treated by a 
•cbolar perfectly familiar witb chew, and cheM history. In tbe couree of the paper §• aay* 

10 



122 CHESS IN ICELAND 



m^rolle is used, the competitors have nine men or pieces, and these are 
placed, as before, singly and alternately in the 24 angles or Intersections of 
lines, leaving vacant six. The author, as it will be seen, is here referring 
to the board divided by diagonals as well as by right lines. In placing his 
pieces, each one selects at first the central places. Although neither of the 
players obtains a line or scries of three men, nevertheless the process of 
playing is continued, and after all the men have entered the board they begin 

that thQ parva tabella of Ovid vvai nothing eUe than "three men morria:** *'Uuter der 
kleinen tafel, anf der belderaelt*, wie Ovid *Ar« amandi * (III. 365, eapU Umo* tUHn^um la' 
piUot) noeh aaadrQeklieb wiederholt, mit drei ateineu geipielt wQrde, Ist wol niehtc aad«n 
xu verstehen, ala die jedem sebOler beat bekannte kleint m&hU [little morrU gam«]. Das 
brett hat 9 felder [the anglea and the central interaection], und wer a«ine steine darAof ia 
eine reihe bringt, gewinnt. In der schwediscben ' Ilusbibliothek f5r aUlakapanOjen * (1889, 
II., 65) iit dies spiel all trippf trapy, trull beachrieben.*' To which Van der LInde adds 
that in Holland the smalleat morris is called tik^ tak, toL Aa regards these latter asserttooe, 
it is necessary to say that both the Swedish and Dutch terms refer te wbl^ the EBgUah wtjlm 
noughts and erotiei — a different diversion, thongh really a line game of the morris order. Thtt 
literature relating to the table«games prevalent in the ancient Mediterranean nations is « 
large one. Among the more important treatises — besides that of Bonlenger — are : J. Mearslos 
(Mercier) — *'I>e ludis Qrsecorum** (Leyden 162S) ; F. de Ficoroni — *'I Uli ed altrl stram«a^ 
lusorj degli antirbi Komani*' (Rome 17S4); J. Averani — "De calculorum sen latmnenlormn 
ludo," published separately perhaps, but certaiuly to be found in the author's "Monum«ata 
latina postuma" (Florence 1769); Paschalis de Petro ''Dissertatlo de alea et aleatorlbae 
(Rome 179S). Much information is to be gleaned from C. SebOnhardt*s *'Alea: fiber die be- 
strafung des giackspiels im iilteren rSmischen recht" (Stuttgart 1885). A most important, aa 
well as, in Its way, a most impressive gleam of light is cast upon one of the oommoneet tab!* 
games of Rome by B. Coiuparetti's essay ''8u di uu antico speechio con iscrisione latlna/* 
which was first published in the '< Ueudieonti della reale accademia del Lineei*' (17 Feb- 
braio 1889). The mirror has on its reverse, a graceful aud attractive design of two peraoa- 
ages playing the game of diiodteim seripta, the board plainly visible. Above is the Latin ia- 
Hcriptiou "Opinor devincain." The board is not unlike the medieval "tables,** of whioia th* 
modern representative is backgammon — a fact which adds a new difficulty to the question of 
the origin of that game. The mirror was found at Palestrina, and is in private posaeseion. 
Senator Comparetti*8 treatment of this lingular bit of antiquity is, as usual, a perfect ple«e 
of work. Something on the subject of the games of antiquity may be gleaned from Stewart 
Culin*s "Chess and playing cards*' (Washington 1898), a profusely illustrated descriptive eaU 
alogue of games of all ages aud lands exhibited at Atalauta, Georgia, in 1895, by the United 
States national museum. The compiler boldly asserts that *'The game of duodeeim »eripta, 
'twelve lines,' was snbstautially the same as our backgammon. It was played upon a board 
with twelve double lines, with fifteen white and fifteen black men; the throws were counted 
as we count them ; the * blots * might be captured ; the pieces (whether they started from home 
or not) had to be brought homo, and the wionvr wan he who first cleared off his men. The 
principal variation from the modern game lies in three dice being employed instead of two.** 
Several treatises rt'Iatin^ to the sports of antiquity will be found in the great "Theaau- 
rus** of Uronovlus, in which some we have mentioned, like those of Boulenger and lleursiua, 
are likewise printed; worthy of note are those by Calcagnino — "De taloruni ao tesseraram 
ct calculorum ludis," and Senftleben "De alea vuterum.*' Students of chess history are saffl« 
oiently familiar with M. A. Severiuo— "Deirantica pettia" (Naples 1694); and D. Soutor— **Pala- 
medes, nivo de tabula lusoria'* (Leyden 162S) — also uiie of the Grouovius tracts. J. Christ- 
ie's work on the game invHuted by Palamedcs is treated in a later note. Then there is an 
extensive modern work by Uecq de Fougi^res — '*Jeux des anciens*' (Paris 1873); but oare 
must be taken in searching this bibliographical field, for many books nominally relating to 
games have nothing to do wiih table games. An article on **LatrunouIi," in a dictionary of 
antiquities now publishing, cites K. Richter — "Die Splolen der Griechen und USmer" (Lelp« 
sic 1888), of which a French version (" Jeux des Grocs et dus Remains par Brial ct Schwob") 
appeared at Paris in 1891, a work devoted almost exclusively to athletic sports. A recent 
l£ng1Ish book of some pretention, K. Falkeuer "Games ancient and orifutal" (London 1898), 
is of slight importance. It may be remaiked that the material in museums, particularly that 
which has resulted from the excavations of the last quarter of a century, has not yet been 
at all adequately treated. 



STRAY NOTES 123 



to move reciprocally on the lines between their positions, and in this way 
each one tries to destroy his adversary. This among the Turks is called 
var u ghel, " go and come." It is not permitted to either to move at first to 
remote parts of the board, but both must proceed thither step by step ; each 
man occupying, if it be vacant, the angle next to him, although this limitation 
is sometimes removed when one of the players has but four men left. Of 
course ho who has lost all his men but two, with which he cannot form a 
ternary line, in which act the whole ratio Uidi consists, must consider him- 
self conquered. 

Hyde has a final short paragraph devoted to the origin of the game. 
We gather from it that "the game is well known both in the east and in the 
west, and originated, it seems, among the Arabs or the Persians, whence it 
was carried to other nations. Its name is treated as a common and evidently 
familiar vocable in Arabic vocabularies composed 700 years ago, in one of 
which we find the statement that 'aZ iohna est ludus persice dictus sidere;" 
but it was really an every-day amusement among the Romans 1700 years ago, 
as we have learned from Ovid, who lived not long before Christ, and if so 
familiar then, it must have certainly been much older." In this last utter- 
ance Hyde*s usual wisdom deserts him, and he ventures to indulge in that 
mode of writing history by guess-work, in which he has been imitated by 
not a few moderns in their treatment of chess. 

The standard authority on popular English diversions is the work of 
Joseph Strutt, "The sports and pastimes of England," which first appeared 
in London in 1801. It has passed through various editions, and well de- 
serves another, with such revisions and additions as recent investiga- 
tions can afford. The edition we are using is that of 1830, edited by 
William Hone, in his day a great student of the popular archjcology of 
England. We reproduce the whole of the brief section entitled "Mdrelles— 
nine men's morris" (pp. 317-8): "Mdrelles, or, as it was formerly called in 
England, nine men's morris, and also ^\e penny morris, is a game of some 
antiquity. Cotgravo describes it as a boyish game, and says it was played 
here commonly with stones, but in France with pawns, or men, made on 
purpose, and they were termed mdrelles; hence the pastime itself received 
that denomination. It was certainly much used by shepherds formerly, 
and continues to be used by them, and other rustics, to the present hour. 
But it is very far from being confined to the practice of boys and girls. The 
form of the mdrelle table, and the lines upon it, as it appeared in the 
XlVth century is here represented (see ^g, 4). These lines have not been 
varied. The black spots at every angle and intersection of the lines are the 
places for the men to be laid upon. The men are different in form or colour 
for distinction's sake; and from the moving these men backwards or forwards, 
as though they were dancing a morris, I suppose the pastime received the 
appellation of nine men's morris; but why it should have been called ^ve 
penny morris, I do not know. The manner of playing is briefly this : two 
persons, having each of them nine pieces, or men, lay them down alternately, 
ofie by one, upon the spots ; and the business of either party is to prevent 
his antagonist from placing three of his pieces so as to form a row of three, 
without the intervention of an opponent's piece. If a row be formed, he that 
made it is at liberty to take up one of his competitor's pieces from any part 
He thkikB most to his own advantage— except from a completed row, which 



124 CffESS IS JCELASD 



rauftt not be touched if there he ho?itile piece on the board that is not a ooin- 
ponent part of that row. When all the pieces are laid down, they are played 
backwards and forwards, in any direction that the lines ran, bat can only 
go from one spot to another 'adjoining V at one time: he that takes all 
his antagoni8t*s pieces is the conqueror. The rastics, when they hare not 
materials at hand to make a table, cut the lines in the same form upon the 
ground, and make a small hole for every dot. They then collect, as above 
mentioned, stones of different forms or colours for the pieces, and play the 
game by depositing them in the holes in the same manner that they are set 
over the dots upon the table.** Strutt closes his description with the citation 
from Shakespeare — or rather a portion of it— the whole of which is reproduced 
on a later page. The fantastic explanation of the word morris, which the 
author gives, shows how easy it was to fabricate etymology in those conyen- 
ient days which preceded tlie rise of tlie historic school of philology. As we 
have already hinte<!, his idea was, for a while, the prevalent theory of the 
origin of '' morris** — whether as the name of the social table game, or as the 
appellation of a certain sort of dance. Hone — and indeed Strutt as well — 
with the word ''merelles** before their eyes, in the title they gave to the 
section of their work whicli related to the morris game, seem to have had no 
notion of any connection between the French and English names. Nor have 
they any more detinite idea of the history of the amusement than that it ^Ms 
a game of some antiquity.** 

Just prior to the date of Hone*s edition of Strutt, there was a periodically 
published work, in several volumes, entitled, **The every-day book." it was 
mainly the production of the same William Hone, and may be regarded as 
a not unworthy predecessor of the modern ** Notes and Queries,** though its 
operations were devoted to a sphere much more limited. It is a vast trea- 
sury of notes on the traditional customs and manners, the ancient sites and 
cdificcH, the curiosities and superstitions of England. In one of its volumes 
there is a communication under the signature of **P** and the date of July 
1826, addressed to the editor on the subject of a rustic amusement styled 
*'Ninepenny Marl,** which reads thus: ''There is an ancient game, played 
by the shepherds of Salisbury Plain, and village rustics in that part of the 
country, called 'Ninepenny Marl.* Not having read any account of it in 
print, I hasten to describe it on your historical and curious pages. Decypher- 
ing and drawing lines on the sand and ground are of great antiquity ; and 
where education has failed to instruct, nature has supplied amusement. The 
scheme, which affords the game of 'Ninepenny Marl,* is cut in tho clay 
(see fig. 5) or it might be drawn upon the crown of a hat with chalk, in 
cottages and public houses, it is marked on the side of a pair of bellows, or 
upon a table, and, in short, any plain surface. 'Marl* is played, like cards, 
by two persons; each person has nine bits of pipe, or wood, so as to distinguish 
his fk*om those of tho opponent. Each puts the pipe or stick upon one of the 
points or corners of the line, alternately, till they are all filled. There is 
much caution required in this, or your opponent will avail himself of year 
error, by placing his man on the very point which it is necessary you should 
occupy; the chief object being to make a perfect line of three, either way, 
and also to prevent the other player doing so. Every man that is taken is 
put into tho square till no further move can be made. But if the vanquished 
be reduced to only throe, lie can hop and skip into any vacant place, that 



STRAY NOTES 125 



he may, if possible, even at the last, form a line, which is sometimes done 
by very wary manoeuvres. However simple * Ninepenny Marl ' may appear, 
much skill is required, particularly in the choice of the first places, so as 
to form the lines as perfectly and quickly as possible. This game, like cards, 
has its variations. But the above imperfectly described way is that to which 
I was accustomed when a boy. I have no doubt that many of your country 
readers are not wholly ignorant of the innocent occupation which * Nine- 
penny MarP has afforded in the retirement of leisure attractions.** 

The correspondent terminates his note with an expression of his own 
"strong recollections of the game.*' His letter calls out another dated firom 
London, " Ludgate-hill, 10th November 1826," and signed " T. B.'' The writer 
says to the editor (who publishes the piece under the title of "Nine Men's 
iVIorris"): *'I was much pleased on reading and being reminded of an an- 
cient game in your book, called Ninepenny - Marl ; a game I had scarcely 
heard of during the last twenty years, although perfectly familiar to me in 
my boyish days, and played exactly the same as described by your corre- 
spondent 'P.' I have since visited my native county, Norfolk, and find the 
game is still played by the rustics, and called, as it always has been there, 
*the game o( Morris^" or 'Nine Men's Morris.' The scheme is firequontly 
chalked on the ground or barn floors, and the game played with difficrent 
coloured stones or beans. I think the name is more appropriate than 'Nine- 
penny Marl;' and moreover, we of Norfolk have the authority of our im- 
mortal bard in his 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' where the queen of the 
fairies, speaking to Oberon, says: 'The Nine Men's Morris is filled up with 
mud.' There are some men who are not a little proud at being proficients 
at this game. I heard an anecdote at North Walsham of a man named 
Mayes, still living in that neighbourhood, who is so great a lover of the 
pastime, that a wager was laid by some wags, that they would prevent his 
going to church by tempting him to play; and, in order to accomplish 
their purpose, they got into a house, building by the road-side, where Mayes 
was sure to pass. Being a great psalm-singer, he had a large book under 
his arm; they called him in to settle some disputed point about the game, and 
he was very soon tempted to play, and continued to do so till church time 
was over, and got a good scolding from his wife for being too late for dinner. 

I have been led to make these remarks from the pleasure I have derived 
from your publication; and you may excuse me, perhaps, if I add, with a 
smile, that I have found some amusement in the game of Morris, by playing 
it with my chess men ; it requires more art to play it well than you would 
imagine at first sight." Hone comments on the latter letter, but his re- 
marks are drawn wholly from Strutt's work. The reader will perceive that 
neither of the writers of these communications has oven the remotest idea 
of the connection between the English provincial "marl" and the French 
"m^relle"; one of them, if not both, seems to take it for granted that "marl" 
has to do with the fact that the morris-figure is cut in the clny. 

In that fine protest which Shakespeare, in a " Midsummer Night's Dream " 
(II, 2), makes Titania address to Oberon, beginning 

These are the forgeries of jealousy, 

there is a noteworthy mention of the morris game as played in rustic Eng- 
land. This is really the most striking appearance of the game in English 



126 CriESS IN ICELAND 



litcratare, and shows how common a feature of village life the amuBement 
must have been in the great dramatist's day. Titania portray? the wild 
tricks played by the king of the fairies in order to spoil the sport of othem, 
and, out of mere whim and Jealousy, to summon all disastrous forces of 
nature, and turn them capriciously against mortals and immortals. She 
K|>cak8 of the calamities thus wrought by the watery elements, by contagious 
fogs, by rains falling on the land, by every pelting river— disasters which 
have made the ox idle, and the ploughman lose his sweat, and the green 
corn to rot. Then she goes on, exclaiming that 

The fold staads ompty in the drowned flold, 
And crows are fattcxl with the murrion flock : 
The nine men's morris is fiU'd np with mud, 
Ami the quaint mates in the wanton green 
For lack of troad are indistinguishable. 

In the last two verses we see that the "quaint mazes" — the lines of the 
morris board — were cut in the turf of lawns and fields. It is singular that 
in all the dictionaries, ntanuals of sports, and similar works in which the 
passage is cited, these — perhaps the most important in the description- 
arc invariably omitted. But it is, however, not improbable that "the quaint 
mazes in the wanton green" refer to the obliterated tracks of the dancers on 
the village green, and not to the complicated lines of the morris board — in 
which case the punctuation might well be changed. It is notable that Shake- 
Kpoaro treats the game as if it were an every-day matter— as customary in 
a rustic region as oxen and ploughmen and green com. 

One commentator of this passage (Alchorne) lets us know that "Nine 
men's morris is a game still played by the shepherds, cow-keepers and so 
forth, in the midland counties, as follows. The figure (of squares, one within 
the other) is made on the ground by cutting out the turf; and two persons 
take each nine stones, which they place by turns in the angles, and after- 
wards move alternately as in chess and draughts. He who can play throe 
in a straight line may take off any one of his adversary's men where he 
pleases, until one, having lost all his men, loses the game." This is, as will 
be plainly seen, the larger morris, but there is nothing to indicate which 
of the two boards (fig. 4 or fig. 5) is referred to. The same may be said 
of another interesting note, on the same passage, to be found in the glossary 
to Mr. John F. Wise's "Sliakcspearc, his birthplace and its neighbourhood'' 
(London, 18G0, p. 155): "The nine men morris board, instead of being on the 
earth, is now more frequently cut on the corn-bins of the stables, at the 
Warwickshire farmhouses, and the ploughmen use white and black beans 
to distinguish their men ; the great object being to get three of them in 
a row, or, as it is called to have a * click-clack, an open row;' in order to do 
this you are allowed to take up your adversary's pieces as at draughts, op 
else to hem them in until they cannot move. There is also a game called 
* three men's morris' which is much simpler." 

To sum up finally — as to the lands of English speech. The morris game 
came probably from France into England— a supposition greatly fiivoured 
by the numerous corruptions of the word mdrelles such as merils^ merrels^ 
morals, woris, marl, all settling into the form morris, which can be traced 
back to a very early age. The elementary form of the game— styled "three 
men morris" — has, so far as we can judge, always been played by means 



STRAY NOTES 127 



of a board showing a single square, but with transverse linos joining both 
the middle of the four sides and the four angles to each other. The still 
simpler form, without the transverse lines uniting the angles, such as we 
hear of in Germany, seems to be unknown among the Anglo-Saxon peoples 
—its place being perhaps filled by the school-boy's "noughts and crosses'' 
(the American "tit-tat-to'') of which we shall hereafter hear in greater detail. 
This very elementary morris has b^on generally used— for some generations 
at any rate— only by children. Of the two forms of the larger morris— 
the first, three concentric squares with lines connecting the central points 
of the lateral lines (fig. 5), and the second, three concentric squares having, 
in addition, diagonals uniting their angles (fig. 4) — both seem to have been 
known in England before the 17th century, although there are several reasons 
for believing that the former is the older design. The most common appel- 
lation for it was " nine men morris " (or " nine men's morris") from the number 
of counters employed by each of the two players. Both the earlier and the 
later forms were carried by the colonists to the United States — as doubtless 
to other British colonies— but, for some reason, the form having the larger 
number of transverse lines became there the generally accepted one — perhaps 
because its slightly greater complexity gave more scope to the player and 
higher interest to the play. The number of counters or men was increased 
in the Western land to twelve for each combatant, and the ordinary appel- 
lation given to the game was ** twelve men morris." Whether this name was 
ever used in England or not is unknown, but it seems certain that only 
dictionaries of American origin cite it. In rustic England the game appears 
to have been even more highly esteemed and widely practiced than in conti- 
nental lands, as is indicated by the custom of cutting the design or "scheme" 
of the board in the turf — so that observers could better watch the game as 
it progressed, or possibly in order to give greater importance to the diver- 
sion as one of the elements of a festival. 

In German the name of the game of mdrelles is, in its signification, like 
one of the more usual Italian appellations. It is called mifhle^ispieU the word 
being one of the compounds of mvhle, the English "mill." The Grimm 
dictionary copies a definition of the middle High German muhlenspiel from 
Stieler, a dramatist and student of words in the 17tli century, which is: 
"Indus tesserarum diversicolorum per decussates mandras." Under the word 
mUfdc (section 5) Grimm gives a definition, the first portion of which is 
drawn from the "Aramanthes" (3d edition, 1733), a so called "frauen-loxi- 
con" compiled by Gottlieb Sigmund Corvinus (cf. 1746), who himself edited 
the first (1715) and second (1739) issues. This note is as follows: 
"Miihle ist ein spiel auf dem umgekchrten damenbrete^ welches mit klein- 
en weissen und schwarzen damensteinen, wle sio das bretspiel hat, von 
zwei personen gespidt wird. Wer die letzten steine auf dem brete behalt, 
hat gewonnen." From the phrase "auf dem ungekehrten damenbrete" it is 
evident that Corvinus had never seen a morris board except on the reverse 
of a draught board, and deemed it impossible to find one designed in any 
other position. This is explained by the fact that in Germany, the boards for 
table-play sold in Germany, as elsewhere, always had on one side a chess- 
board and on the other side the morris-board. If they were made to fold, 
like a box, then the interior was a backgammon board, while the upper and 
under sides of the board, as folded, were devoted to chess and morris. In Italy 



128 CHESS IX ICELAND 



the combination of the chess and morris boards is still very common; Dor 
have they gone out of use in Germany and other countries. Another com- 
piler of words has the same idea as Steiler about the proper position of the 
morris board. Valentine in his ^'Dizionario italiano-tede8co*'(1834) puts the 
word scaricalasUw — one of the Italian names of the morris game — into a 
German form as: *'ff<w muhlenspiel (hinten auf dem damenbret)/* 

The next Grimm citation is from the large dictionary of Adelung— the 
best of its day — which appeared between 1774 and 1786, it supplies us with 
an explanation of the technical term mu?ile, used in the mv?Uenspiel to sig- 
nify ''a line of throe pieces." We quote it: "Man hat eine miihle, wenn 
man droi stcine in eincr gerade linie hat/' The expression die tniihle zu 
luachen is defined: ^^durch einschiebung des dritten steines eine gerade linie 
bekommon;" and the expression seine miihle aufmachen is explained "durch 
wegnehmung des einen steines seine gerade linie zerreiszen." 

A "miihle" was thus the same as a "click-clack, an open row," de- 
scribed by a Shakcsperian annotator in a previous paragraph; or perhaps an 
"open row," in English, may be identical with an "aufgemachte miihle" in 
German— as indeed wo might infer from the two acljectives; and can it be 
that "click-clack," said to be used by the peasants and villagers of War- 
wickshire, corresponds to the Gorman "gemachte miihle?" Or is it the "par- 
allel mill," of which we shall hear on a later page? The use of technical 
terms by untcchnical writers, as we have before remarked, is of a very vague 
and uncertain character. 

The game ought to have accompanied, or speedily followed, chess across 
the Alps into the northern parts of the Holy Roman Empire, but we find no 
very early dates given in any treatise of German games or elsewhere, the 
oldest being, as we shall see, in the early half of the 17th century, although 
a diligent investigator would, most likely, be able to trace the game to a 
much remoter period. The farther Teutonic regions received the morris 
game from Germany. It is known in Dutch as molenspel^ a rendering of the 
Gorman name, as is the Danish moUe or mdUespil, All these appellations 
would seem to indicate that the game came into this portion of the world 
from Italy, where, as wo have seen, it was for a long time called utolino 
(mill). Although the elaborate Italian and French dictionary known a8"Le 
nouvel Alberti" (1885), in its French portion under mereUc^ asserts that the 
game "s'appelle aussi le jeu du moulin," we have not chanced to find such 
a statement in any otiicr lexicographical work. But Von der Lasa*s asser- 
tion in regard to this point, reported elsewhere, must be taken into ac- 
count. 

Only one recent German investigator— so far as we are informed— even 
alludes to the morris game. This is the just mentioned writer, Tassilo von 
der Lasa, the reference occurring in connection with his exhaustive researches 
into the treatment of chess, morris, and tables, in so many manuscripts 
dating from the two centuries which followed the completion of the first 
treatise of this class under the auspices of King Alfonso X. Von der Lasa, 
commenting the codices known under the names of "Bonus Socius" and 
"Civis Bononiac," says: "Diese drei spiele scheinen eine allgemein be- 
kannto und belicbte trias im 14. Jahrhundcrt ausgemacht zu haben." It 
is well to note that this high authority writes the German name of the game 
miUUcspiel instead of iniihlenspidj and twice employs a Teutonized form of 



STRAY NOTES 129 



the French appellation, die merellen. In noticing the game, with its prob- 
lems, or positions, as they appear in the two early manuscript treatises 
which we have mentioned, he speaks of it as das grosse mUhlespiel, which 
can only be in contradistinction to that simpler variety to which we have 
so often alluded, and which employs in its board, or playing surface, only 
one square instead of three (that is, one external and two internal). 

Perhaps as concise an account of the game as we can quote from any 
current German work, is that given in Meyer's "Konversations-Lexicon'' 
under the word miihlenspiel (of which tlie variant millchenspiel is cited), where 
it is described as a '^bekanntes spiel, das von zwei personen auf einor aus 
drei koncentrisch in der mitte jeder der vier seiten durch eine linie durch- 
schnittenen vierecken bestehenden figur, derglelchen sich meistauf der untern 
Aache des damenbrets beflnden, gespielt wird. Jeder der spielenden hat noun 
damensteine und sucht, in dem or die steinc, einen nach dem andcrn ent- 
weder in die ecken oder in die mittc aufsetzt, eine ^'•mUhle'' zu bekommen, 
d. h. drei steine neben einander in eincr linie zu erhalten. Dann zieht er 
seine miihle auf und schlagt, wenn er sie wieder zuzioht, einen stein des 
gegners, der nicht in einer miihle steht. Man sucht besonders eine zwick- 
miihle zu bekommen d, h. eine solche miihio die auf den einander parallelen 
linien steht, und wenn sie aufgezogen wird, zugleich die andere zuzieht, so 
dass man bci jedem zug einen fcindlichen stein schlagt. Das spiel hat dor 
verloren, welcher alle steine bis auf zwei eingebiisst hat, so dass es ihm 
nicht mohr m&glich ist eine miihle zu bekommen. Hat man bloss noch drei 
steine, so kann^man springen, d, h. die steine nach willkiir setzen, wohin 
man will. Unter umstanden kann auch der eine spieler don andern fest- 
ziehen d. h, ihm jeden weitern zug verspcrren." One of the rules which 
the writer cites is to be noted, namely that "If a player have only three 
pieces left he is allowed to *jump/ that is, to move whither he will— accor- 
ding to his own pleasure.*^ 

A much more detailed account of the German morris is found in an 
interesting publication, "Archiv der spiele," of which three annual parts 
were published in Berlin in 1819-21. The 

article is contained in the second volume Q. ^ .< 

issued in 1820 (pp. 21-27), a notable charac- 
teristic of the description being that the 
'* three men morris" board is represented 
as a square, with transversal lines running » 
from the middle of each lateral centre to 



the opposite one, but without any diagonal 
lines (fig. 6), being, therefore, simpler even 
than the form known to exist elsewhere 
(fig. 1). This form is the equivalent of the ^ 
Swedish (rtpp, trapp^ inUl^ and the English ^ 

noughts and crosses. In England this is ^^ ^ 

made by drawing two horizontal and two 

perpendicular lines on a school-slate or page of paper, tho outer (quad- 
rangular) lines of the figure remaining unexpressed, or represented only by 
the firame of the slate or the margin of the paper (flg. 9). Tho players use 
no counters, but write alternately in the spaces an o or a + (or in Sweden 
a 1), each ondeavoaring to form a row of three. Another thing to be noted is 

17 



130 CHESS IX ICELAND 



that tho larger morris board with diagonals is likewise unftiiniliar to the 
compiler. Although the essay is somewhat long we shall quote the whole 
of it, premising tliat the tlrst section is devoted to the simpler, the second 
to tho more elaborate game. The general heading is: ^^Das mi'ihlenspiel 
(triodium, jcu dcs mercllcs);*' the style will be found to be somewhat anti- 
quated, owing, no doubt, to the fact that a part of the matter at least is 
borrowed from earlier works: '^Das kleine oder einfache miihlenspiel (fig. 6), 
wird von zwei spielern, jeder mit 3 damsteinen vcrsehen, auf einem brett nach 
der folgenden zeichnung gespielt. ^Auf den neun ecken, a bis t, kOnnen 
steine gesetzt werden. und 3 in einer reihe, z. b. ^^i, heh heiszen eine 
mi'ihle. Derjenige spieler, dem es zuerst gelingt, mit seinen 3 steinen eine 
miihio zu setzcn, liat das spiel gewonnen, und den etwa verabredeten einsatz. 
Der gcgenspieler sucht ilin daran auf alle m(>gliche weise zu hindern, indem 
or seine steine dioseui zweck gemasz anwendet. Besonders darf er ihn nicht 
eine stellung nehmen lassen, wo er durch versetzung eines steines auf 
zwei punkten eine miihlc zusetzen kann, wie z. b. hae oder hce^ wo er an 
der vollondung der cinon nicht mehr wiirde gehindert werden ktinnen. Unsre 
knaben bodi'irfen zu dieseia spiele weder brett, noch damstoine, sondern eine 
zeichnung mit kreide oder schicrerstitt, ein aufrisz auf die erde ist ihnen 
hinrcichcnd, so wit* zum spielen kirsch- und pflaumenkerno, kleine kiesel, 
rcchonptennige etc. Das spiel ki'indigt sich zwar durch hohe einfachheit als 
ein urspiol an, wie es denn in der that von den griecliischen und rdmischen 
knaben so gut als von den unsrigen gef^pielt wurde; aber fiir das roifere 
alter liat es kein interesse, weil es, mit gchoriger aufmerksamkeit gespielt, 
iuHuer romi [rcmisj wird, und voui inorgcn bis zum abend nicht zu ende 
kommt. Dioser uinstand tiat zur erdndung des weit interessanteren groszen 
miihlenspiels, oder doppcfmUhle gefiihrt.'' This account of the "three men 
morris'* seems intelligible enough. His statement as to the simple in- 
struments of the game which German children arc content to employ would 
apply to other lands. It will be seen tliat he asserts with confidence tho 
practice of the game, in this form, by the boys of ancient Greece and Rome. 
The writer entitles the second part of his article ''Das doppel-miihlen- 
spiol." We reproduce his wood-cut of the older morris-board, although it 
has been given on a previous page (see llg. 5, here fig. 7). From almost his 
first phrase it will be understood that ho is treating of the nine-men morris: 
**Es wird von zweien auf einem brctte gespielt, wie die figur cs darstellt. 
Kin jeder hat 9 gewohnliohe damsteine von verschiedener farbe, welche aber 
koine urspriingliche platze haben, sondern von den spielern abwechsolnd und 
willkiihrlich aufgcstellt werden nachdem der erste aufsatz durch das loos 
entschieden ist. Der zweck des spielers ist des gegners steine zu schlagen, 
und wer zuerst so viel steine verliert, dasz er wcniger als 3 behklt, hat das 
spiel verloren, weil er alsdann keine miihlc mehr machen, also den gcgner 
nicht mehr schlagen kann. Denn nur derjenige kann schlagen, der eine ncue 
miihle macht, oder eine schon vorhandene zuzieht, und geschioht das schla- 
gen dadurch, dasz er dem gegner einen stein wcgniniint, und zwar wclchen ep 
will, sobald er nur nicht zu einer gesehlossenen miihlc gehiirt. Eine miihle 
heiszt aber nichts als drei gleichfarbigc steine nebcn einander auf dersclben 
au^stellreihc. Das brett ist namli<'h mit .'i quadraten eins in dem andern 
bezeichnet, welche in ihrer niitto durch linien ilurchsclinitten sind. In den 
ecken, und da wo sich 2 linien kreuzon, sind die aufstellpunktc; also auf 



STRAY NOTES 



131 




dem ganzen brctte sind doren 24 vorhanden. Wenn nun steine auf a&c, 
auf d e f, auf ghi stehen, bilden sie miihlen, und eben so auf beh. Also 
nach horizontaler und verticaler 
richtung sind miihlen m5glich, 
nicht nach der diagonalen richt- 
ung, und z. br cfi ist keine 
miihle. Schon beim aufstellen 
istdorhauptzweck: selbst miihlen 
zu machen, und den gegner daran 
zu verhindern, und darnach wahlt 
man die aufstellpunkte seiner 
steine. Oelingt es z. b : einem 
spieler, 3 steine auf c h b oder 
efnzvL bringen, bevor die punkte 
d b und d e vom feinde besetzt 
sind, so kann ihm dieser cine 
miihle nicht verhindern, weil er 
nur einen stein auf einmal setzen, 
also nur einen der beiden schliesz- 
punkte der miihle besetzen kann. 
Die aufstollung ist vollendet, wenn jeder seine 9 steine aufgesetzt hat, und 
dann beginnt ein abwechselndes Ziehen, d. h. bewegen der aufgestellton 
steine von einem aufstellpunkte zum andern auf den marquirten linien, 
z. b : von d nach e ist ein zug, und von e aus sind, wenn keine stand- 
punkte besetzt sind, 4 ziige moglich, namlich nach 6, nach 7i, nach f und 
nach d. Von den iibrigen durchschnitts-aufstellpunkten aus, sind nur 3 
ziige mCglich, z. b: von h nur nach e, oder nach i, oder nach g; und von 
den eckaufstellpunkten nur 2 ziige, z. b: von f aus nur nach n oder nach e. 
Daher strebt man immer, sowohl beim aufstellen als beim Ziehen, sich 
dieser mittlern punkte zu bemachtigen. Der zweck des ziehens ist ebenfalls 
miihlen zu machen, und den gegner am machen oder zuziehen derselben zu 
hindern. Gcschlagen wird namlich: einmal, wenn eine miihle zuerst ge- 
raacht wird; dann aber auch, so oft sie zugozogen wird. Daraus werden 
sich leicht einige spielregeln ergcben, z. b: dasz man nicht eine miihle auf- 
ziehen musz, deren wiederzuziehen der feind hindern kann, z. b : ich wollte 
den stein e von der miihlo def nach h Ziehen, und der gegner hatte einen 
seiner steine in &, so wiirde er ihn gleich nach e herunter Ziehen, und da- 
durch meine miihle unbrauchbar machen, oder gar durch schlagung eines 
dazu gehdrigen steins zerstdren, wenn er inzwischen selbst eine miihle zu- 
zieht. Ferner: dasz man immer denjenigon der schlagbaren, d. h. nicht in 
einer geschlossenen miihle stehenden steine seines gegners schlagen musz, 
der ihm die nachste anwartschaft zu einer miihle giebt, z. b. habe ich die 
wahl zwischen bef, so musz ich e schlagen, weil, wenn ich z. b: & n&hme, 
der gegner vielleicht die miihle in d schlieszen k5nnte, oder wenn ich f 
nahme, in h, Wer seine steine bis auf 3 verloren hat, der fangt an zu 
springen; d. h. er zieht nicht mehr schrittweise, sondern setzt, wie beim 
aufstellen, seine steine beliebig wo er will. Sind beide spieler zum springen 
reducirt, so ist das spiel, ohne grobe fehler von einer seite, remi [remis], d. 
h. es kann es keiner gewinnen, es miiszte denn der fall seyn, dasz der eine 
spieler beim ersten sprunge sich eine doppelto miihlenanlage vorberel ten kann, 



132 CHESS IN ICELAND 



welche der gegner nicht zu hindern vermag. Eine zwickmiihle nennt man boi 
diesem spiele zwei so gelegeno miihlen, dasz man mit einem and demselbeo 
zuge dio einc offnen und die andrc schlicszcn und so abwechseln kann, z. b. 
b h fnu waren mit steinon besetzt, so kann ich dadurch, dasz ich den stein 
f nach e ziehe, die miihle b h schlieszen, indem ich n u 5ffae, welche ich darch 
eincn riickschritt auf dem folgonden zuge wieder schlieszen kann. Ich kann 
also auf jedcm zu<;c schlagen, so langc dieso stellung dauert, welche der 
feinde jedoch auf zwcierlei weise zerst5ren kann. Einmal dadurch, dasz er 
den punkt e mit cinem seiner steine besctzt; dann auch dadurch, dasz er 
oinen stein von der gerade gedffncton mi'ihlo schlagt, wenn es ihm gelingt, 
trotz der zwickmiihle dcs feindes, eine miihle zuzusetzen. Wir haben in 
diesem spiele zu wenig selbsterfahrung, mochten esaber dem damspiele an 
interesse gleiclisetzen, wo nicht vorzichen; wenn wir gleich glaubon, dasz 
auch hier, bei gleicher starke, der anziehende gewinnen musz. Man pflegt 
liier einen doppeltcn matsch, einen groszen und einen kleinen zu unterscheiden, 
und damit doppeltcn und dreifachcn verlust zu verbindcn. Der kleine matsch 
hciszt : wenn jemand bis zum springcn geschwaclit wird, ohne eine muhle 
gcmacht zu haben ; der grosze matsch : wenn er auch mit dem springen za 
keincr miihle koinmt, sondern das spiel verliert ohne eine miihle gemacht, ohne 
(1cm gegner cinem einzigen stein geschlagen zu haben. Ueber don erfindor, 
iiber ort und zeit der erflndung dieses miihlenspiclcs, so wenig als des vor- 
gehenden damspieles, haben wir bis jetzt etwas siclieres ermitteln konncn.'* 
This is the most complete explanation known to us of the method of playing 
the larger morris game, and doubtless most of the features and rules cited 
are of much antiquity. It merits an English rendering had we space for it, 
and did we not consider a reproduction of the original of more value to those 
whoso researches lie in this direction. It is proper to say that in the very 
last portion of his description the author uses the English word ** match" 
in the sense of "variety'* or "kind of victory/' like our technical terms 
"gammon/' and "backgammon." A player wins a little "match,'* when his 
opponent has been able to form no " mill " (or line of three men) before he 
has reached the "jumping" point (that is, been reduced to only throe pieces). 
He gains a great "match" when the opposing player has at no time been 
able to complete a "mill," nor capture a solitary man. 

We have been unable to look through much of the German literature 
in search of quotations relating to the game of morris. One poetical pas- 
sage was, however, easily discovered. This occurs in a piece by Paul Flem- 
ing (1609-1640), the most poetical of all the German 17th century poets. He 
says in one of his lyrics : 



Gleiohfalls moDgelts niolit an spiolen, 

Yor ana stoht das interim ; 

Da dio peilke ; hier sind muhlen. 

Of the other games mentioned in the piece other than mUhleyi we know 
little; peilhe (or beifke) was, we believe, played with a ball or balls. The eitation 
from this poet— who died while still so young, and who was introduced to the 
world of English readers by Longfellow — is also the oldest German mention 
of the morris known to us. 

Friedrich Amelung, in his invaluable serial, " Baltische Schachbl&tter " 
(part 6, 1898), has an essay " Zur geschichte des schachspiels in Russland,** 
(p. 139-147), in which he tells us that the later historical writers of Russia, 



STRAY yOTES 133 



especially Sorokin and Sabelin, are agreed in believing that Russia ob- 
tained the game of chess from the Greeks, that is through the Byzantine 
empire, and not directly from central or southern Asia, as has been main- 
tained by all recent western writers. Mr. Amelung relates that the sixth gen- 
eral council of the church— the same which Van der Linde styles the Synod 
of Elvira in Spain {'*QucllenstuJien/' p. 58)— in one of its ordinances made 
games played with dice unlawful. The " Nomokanon," the Slavic code of 
church law, contains this canon, and imposes a penalty of dismissal from 
his Amotions on every bishop, priest* or deacon who does not avoid dice- 
play and drunkenness. According to Sorokin, modifications of the "Nomo- 
kanon** were made in Byzantium during the 11th and 12th centuries, and were 
sent to Kiev, reaching that place about the year 1270, and formally received 
validity. Such a modification of the above-mentioned ordinance 42 of the 
oounoil cited, was composed by the famous historian and canonist, John 
Zonaras (d. 1118 in the convent at Mount Athos). forbiilding all the clergy 
to practice dice or chess— this being by no means a solitary instance of cler- 
ical ignorance in regard to the real character of the latter game. This forms 
the earliest known mention of chess in Russia, and the canonical prohibition 
of the game under what may be called the eastern decretals, lasted down to 
the beginning of the 18th century. In one of the Russian canonical injunc- 
tions against the Indian game pronounced during the 16th century, it is 
stated, as an excuse for its inhibition, that it is derived from the ''godless 
Chaldeans.** Other games, including especially cards, were subsequently 
added to the condemnatory list. We learn, however, that at the Russian 
oourt, chess, perhaps by clerical dispensation, or perhaps only by courtly 
license, was nevertheless played in this same period, and played so frequently 
that an artisan was attached to the court for the turning of chess-men, and 
heneebore the title of "Shakhmatniki." But during all this time there seems 
to have been no ecclesiastical opposition to the morris game. The earliest 
notice otm^relles is that citeJ by Sabelin, who delves from the court accounts 
in the year 1675, a bill for six sets of ivory chess men. together with boards 
for morris and backgammon, ordered of the " Shakhmatniki." Mr. Amelung 
farther reports that, although prohibited, not only the nobility, but also the 
burghers of the cities, and even the peasants, knew, and sometimes played, 
the prohibited chess, as well as draughts, backgammon, morris, dice and 
other games. The name of the morris game in Russia is melniza^ being the 
ordinary word for " mill." In the language of most of the countries which 
lie between the Teutonic region and the greatest of the Slavic nations, the 
word given by the dictionaries as the name of this game indicates the source 
of its introduction. The signification in general is "mill,'' and we may 
therefore reasonably assume that the diversion must have come from Italy, 
either through Germany, or by some other route. Thus, in Hungarian, the 
word Ynalom signifies "mill," and the word mn-elies is translated malomjftteh, 
the latter element signifying "game; " another compound otmalom, namely 
nudmosdi, also has the signification of " morris game." In Bulgarian, the 
names for '* mill" and m^relles are likewise identical. 

The Dutch term for the morris, as we have previously stated, is mo- 
lenspel, that is, literally, the " mill-game." But indigenous appellations for 
the morris game likewise exist. We have cited from Hyde the term driestikeii 
for the lesser morris, and negensiihgn for the larger, the first element in each 



134 CIIESS IN ICELAND 



signifying respectively three {drie) and nine {negen)^ referring evidently to 
the three men morris and the nine men morris. The latter element is written 
in the modern Dutch dictionaries variously, '*5<tA;'' and "5<^A»/' "5<ri7r"and 
** strek."' The whole word is usually cited as a synonym of molenspel. The 
lexicons also give the verb ^'' negenstekke^i^'' meaning "to play at nine men 
morris/' 

Notices of the game in Danish are to be found in most of the publica- 
tions devoted to the diversions of children, such as " Spillebog for bfirn " 
(Copenhagen 1853, pp. 30-37). Here the brief account bears the title otmoUe, 
and includes a drawing of the board used in the major morris. The narrative 
which we quote in the original, gives the ordinary rules, and states that the 
game is played with 18 pieces, each player having 9— the sets being of differ- 
ent colours. It is evident that the game follows the German model. A line 
of three myn is termed a " mill," and one of the rules— of which the final 
clauses are not as clearly phrased as they might be— states that if a player's 
pieces stand in such a manner that by opening one ** mill '' he can make 
another, then it is named a *' running mill" {rendemolle) — the whole para- 
graph reading as follows: "Molle spilles med 18 brikker, hvoraf hver af de 
spillende har 9, hvorfor de, liegsom i dam, maae vaere af to couleurer. Brsedtet 
er som nedenstaaende tegning [fig. 5]. Den ene af de spillende sjetter 
f()rst en brik paa et af hj5rnerne eller paa de steder, hvor tvserstregerne 
skja?re quadraterne ; dernaest saitter den anden en brik paa, og saalodes vexle 
de bestandig, til begge have sat alle 9 brikker paa. Den ene skal sdge at 
hindre den anden i at faae trc brikker i een rade, hvilket kaldes en mofle^ 
da man, hvergang man gj(3r en miille, har lov at fratage modstanderen hvil- 
kensomhelst brik, man vil, dog ikkc nogen, som staaer i molle. Staae den enes 
brikker saaledes, at man ved at aabne en molle strax kan gjore on anden, 
da kaldes det en rendemolle. Man er da sikker paa, ved hvert tr?ek, at kunne 
fratage modstanderen en brik, naar denne ikke ved selv at trsekke i mOlle 
kan tage en brik bort fra den aabnede molle, hvad man imidlertid i de fleste 
tilfjolde kan forhindre, naar man borttagcr de' brikker, hvormed han kan 
tnokke i molle. " The Last sentences, relating to the " rendemolle, " run as 
follows: "One player endeavours to prevent the other from arranging three 
of his pieces in a row, which is styled a ' mill,' since every time a player 
completes a * mill ' he has the right of removing from his adversary's game 
whatever piece he chooses, unless it be one which stands in a completed 
*mill.' If a player's i icces are so situated that by opening a *miir [that 
is, by moving one piece out of a completed 'mill'] he can immediately make 
another [that is, by moving, at his next turn, the same piece back, thus re- 
forming his row of three], it is called a 'rendemolle' [running mill]. The 
player is then sure of being able to capture one of his opponent's pieces at 
every move, unless the latter can himself complete a 'mill* and by that means 
take away a piece from the [temporarily] opened 'mill,' thus destroying 
the troublesome 'rendemolle;' "rendemolle," it would thus seem is the equiv- 
alent of the German "zwickmiihle." The game is said to be still common 
in the Danish country districts. 

In a Swedish work, similar to the Danish one just cited, called "Ungdom- 
ens bok" ("Book for youth," 2d ed. Stockholm 1883), edited by Albert 
Norman, we find an account of the morris game in Sweden. It occurs in the 
first volume, which is devoted to the games played by boys (p. 162). Unlike 



<rRA.T y-jTES 



135 



the boftrd ^^ea la ;iiii r*:ij«a ▼ rri. -.i-^ :C'i r::r:: .-.•<?? w!ia: w^ iave styled 
the twelTe men aL.:rrj» -tia^i *.lit.:i^ -l-i ila^.c^ Li** . h'ii ^:y-:s no reason 
tor sock a diSkrmc^ iz ii.-.z--:^ :t. .--r.i'i. T--* z^l^'z 'las \j.-i 'i^'-ixi oauio 

tern '.>? "* :: " -' H-i".*^ _-7;n az i:i:':cn; ■::' t:i^ ^aiue oi 

"•tkought* ^nd ^^:^s^." -... ..- --'- — •—•^ -ir.'--.= r rurni-AtJs no 

representatioa •: ^ ::3 ttriir : — ^ • : 

**For the proper zi«irr_* zazi** -^-i^ i 

is a special boarl i-irx^i -*-.*:! 

lines sach as ar»» si.:Tr:i hy -.^^ i.:- 

compaoTing 'lesi&r. ±^. f . Zai . 




f"-« 



one of the two ^.'.ij-*?* la* tliz^ 
eoanters (for eiax;!-*. ira::^i-.- 
men): the men are al-vaj* ««- -;.: r. 
the places waer* it: „-4:« !r -i* 
each other, or ccx .:::*»? -raii 
other at an ac^>. ir. : :. . iri . 
sooceeds in pz.i'iiz.z \:.:rK /. :..• 
coonteni in a ^j-*- l"-^» '.^Ki^rrj 
completed a -l.;!. ' -jr';^" ari.: 
gained the rt^j'r.t :.. ta-.-i airi. 
one of his oppoccn;'^ :.-:-: al^ea:,. 
on the boari, bn: tt:.:.:. :* c-^: a: 

the licie Ataniicz .:: i • * 

The first piay^r -.iia.iV h^^ici bv •^-x-upyin,: lae an^Le rr. ani then sois 
his next luan en ^: .f LS alv^r.-ary '^.^•^ n'.>t then pla-.e his lirsi or stvond 
man on 6, the nr>: ;^-*7*=' ^nv:r* :.is -.l-ird :i.in :;iero. and has therefore uiaJc 

*• The Swedifh :«i; U t-.ruift'.j Eaci. 4af.-*ri>r ij ;LAt cf the DAnUh b«<>kIeL. Tbi* i* 
tbe parapapk :a re^^r! u, it* tixple <rtpp. trip^. tr-^-. caj;h's a:i! cruss«5 : ** IVttA »r f>~r 
f*Mar ea ai7^<c; rj^ziiip forI^^eU«. De :n '.c.& ^nf-rludac me! :ta trir- o<li X\'s l.tuj;t- 
■Ucck i nio <TTa.;r»&er. D-» f;>-±'.aa'l<: iro it i. Den esc rl.Jer o. 'lea &ndre 1 v\\ «i:t tvckt'u. 
Hvar oeh ea »ocf.: fort: fv ff::^^ :r« :>.':&<:3 i ea rxl och om mOji^ b-'aira dt>^u au-lre dcri- 
fnui fcnom iatkjata.. l-s \f «:: :«>-;<^c. 4er i::cupc!a7t;3 tvckcs rllja Lilia Iruie. Ilvar oeb 
en far i lia tar inf^'.tx ..'..'.: «i: -.'■.'■&eo. Har h&n det re Iac tre j^iu^tr p'k taflanr otstrjkvr 
haa ett oeh fljctar dec t .1 >n pi^u Lia o::»kar. Dec. som lycka^ forst fylla niden, atr«>- 
par : 'Tripp, trapp, trail, mi;^ -"i arn ir fwU. ' " Tlie <-!a««ili£ation of the infaatile S{>ort re- 
eciTca a warrant from th!« err of tr.^ i^'f '-,%*{ A plav^r. ThU i« tucceedel by aa aoruuut of 
tb« proper **m:l! i^ame" t'jvarmpel : **Ti.l 4«t e^tat!t/a •iTarn^pelet bar maa ett «ar»kiMt 
bride, boteeknadt mei iiaier •^laoa bar#ttea-le af^iiMntn; vi^ar flg. S). llrar oeh en af do 
tva tpelarne Lar nio ter]c*rn. tt-1 exem^el danupehhrickor. Teckoen utsiittas alUid p.i Vxidaua 
•UUIen, dcr tv-^ linier korta hraran !ra eller 8ammans:0ta i rinktrl. Den. som lyekas stUUa 
tre af aina teeken i ea rad, bar derijcnocn gjort ea qrara oeh fu.'varfrat raltighrt att bort- 
ta^^a ett af motatindarens teckeu, lom redan ar med i «pelet. men utau att beteekua nai^ou 
qvarn. Mac borjar ^erna med a'.t betitta en vinkel. till exempel a. oeh s*%tter »4.''lan dvt 
aadra t^reknet ;. V e : titter di ieke mot«pelaren »itt fr>r«ta eller andra teckun pi ft, sattvr 
den otApelande dcr nitt iredje oeh har Lirigtnom redan forTissat sig om en qvaru. Han kaa 
nimligen bllda den gunom att beKitta c eller h ; d.\ motstindarea blott kaa hindra ett af do 
trk dra^^ea, bltr en qrarn taker. 8-i snart alia terknen aro aavanda, flyttas de, dock •;!, 
att blott ett st«9 tage« hrarje gioi?. Kger en upelaru lilott tre teckeu qvar, far ban boppa, 
det Till fti;;a stalla Mitt tec-ken p^i hvilken icdig plats ban rili. Den, aoni blott har tvA teeken 
qrar, ir forlorad. Ktt m^l, till hTilket man bur strafva, ir att fa tvu qvaraar jemlopaudo 
med hvarandra till »:x«mpel n, b, c, oeh, d, e, /. Fur att ernu detta kan dct vara fordelak* 
tigt att l.ita motApelarcn behalla fyra teeken, pu det ban ej gcnom boppando med tltt trct^Jo 
mi hindra planen. Htundom kan ifvtn muLipelaren •tiingas, sa att hau ej mero kaa gdra 
nagot drag.*' 



136 CHESS IN ICELAND 



himself sure of a *mill/ He can form it by occupying c or ?i^ since his 
opponent can prevent only one of these two moves, and his *miir is sure. 
As soon as all the men are entered moving begins, but in such a way that 
only a step is taken at each time. Whenever a player has only three men 
left he can ^jump,' that is to say he can place his counters upon whatever 
empty spaces he wishes: the one who has only two counters left has lost 
the game. An object for which each player ought to strive is to make two 
mills running parallel with each other, for example a, 6, c and rf, e, f. In 
order to attain this, it will be advantageous to allow the adversary to retain 
four counters, so that he may not be able to *jump' with his third one, 
and thus hinder the plan in view. Sometimes the adversary can be shut 
up or confined, so that he is no longer able to move." 

It will be seen that the game differs from the American game, played 
on a similar board, in using only nine men instead of twelve. The advice 
given to the player varies also from the usual counsel in indicating, as the 
proper first play, the occupation of a point on an external line instead of 
one of the central linos. The player is also advised to make parallel "mills," 
but the particular advantage of doing so is not too clearly set forth, nor do wo 
find the peculiar technical term "running-mill," which appeared in the Danish 
description. It is likely that by "parallel mills," he means really a "rende- 
molle," in which one of the counters closes or completes one "mill" as it 
opens the other, the player reversing the operation at his next move, unless 
prevented by his adversary — or, in other words, "parallel mills" represent 
the German "zwickmiihle." 

But we find in Swedish a later and more pretentious treatise on games, 
the "lllustrcrad Spelbok," issued under the pseudonymous authorship of 
"Tom Wilson." It seems to be based upon an early edition of the French 
"Encyclopedic des jeux," from which we have already largely quoted, or 
upon some very similar French compilation. The section in this volume de- 
voted to the morris game (qvarnspel) embraces pages 195-205. The first par- 
agraph describes the three men morris {liten qvarn eller tripj^, trapp, iruil), 
"in which" he tells us "the game of draughts is supposed to have had 
its origin" ("som antagligen gifvit upphaf til damspelet")— an error which 
he needlessly borrows from some foreign source. His three-men-morris is, 
however, really the same as the already described simplest of the morris 
forms. Its board is represented in figure no. 7. It is really the frtpp, trapp^ 
trull, or noughts and crosses, or rather a variety of it, since apparently there 
cannot be any diagonal rows of three. His description of this children*s sport 
may be thus rendered: " In the nine corners a, b, r, rf, e, f, g, h, i, counters are 
entered, three in a row, for instance, g, h, i, or ft, e, h, being styled a *mill.' He 
who first succeeds in completing a * mill,' with his three pieces, has won. The 
adversary endeavours by all means to prevent this; especially must he not 
permit the occupation of such points as enable the player to form a *miir in 
two ways, for example, 6,«,e or 6, e,c, in which case a *miir can be completed 
by entering a piece, in the first case either at c or /t, and in the second at 
a or /i." Here the writer abandons noughts and crosses, and gradually glides 
over into three men morris, for he says: "When the players have entered 
their three men, then they begin to move them, according to one way of play- 
ing, to whatever points they please, but according to another, only to the 
nearest point along the line on which the pieces stand. This last method is 



STRA Y NOTES 



137 



+ 



always employed when the board has, in addition to the right lines, or linos 
Joining the middles of the exterior lines, also diagonals connecting the angles, 
and this is certainly the most proper board'' — this being, as will bo no- 
ticed, the real throe men morris. *'\Vhen a player has a *miir full or com- 
plete," he goes on to say, "then he usually cries out to his opponent: *tripp, 
trapp, trull, my mill is fulP (*min qvarn iir fuU')'' — reminding us of the 
"Tit, tat, to, three in a row!" of English and American children under like 
circumstances. Here there is again a return to naughts and crosses in the 
versatile mind of the Swedish writer: *'Boys for this game need neither board 
nor men; they make a rough sketch on card-board with a pencil, or on the 
ground with a stick, and play with pebbles or the like. They arc even ac- 
customed to draw the following four simple lines 
and make use of pencil signs instead of moveable 
pieces" — whereupon he presents a sketch of the 
two horizontal and two perpendicular lines, as ^^___ 
drawn on a slate or piece of paper in the way 
we have mentioned in our note on the English 
naughts and crosses. He tells us that in the ^__^^ 
North one of the players uses the figure 1 (in- 
stead of 0), and the other the figure 2 (instead 
of +). This is interesting, since it shows the 
same popular custom prevailing in Sweden and 
England. The compiler afterwards says that the 
simple morris is a primeval sport, and was played by the boys of Greece 
and Rome just as it is played to-day. lie then repeats himself by saying 
that in some places a board is used which has not only the two central 
lines (of fig. C), but two diagonal lines connecting the corners. He finally 
occupies himself with the older or larger morris board (fig. 7), which he 
styles "double morris" {dnhbel'qvarn)A'^ 

After this complete description of the nine men morris we are told that 
there are also boards provided with diagonal lines connecting the corners 
(twelve men morris), and he adds that upon such a board players are some- 




Fig. 9. 



*'* TbAt the siiDplvr form of the major morris (with no diagoual lines) is, howeTer, used 
la Sweden as well as the twelve men murris, is attested by another book of games, the 
"Iland-Bibllothek fdr Sullskapsiiojeu" (Stockholm 1B38-9, II., p. 57), already cited in one of 
our notes. It gives a sketch uf the nine men morris board and accompanies it by abriof descrip- 
tion: "Till (ivaraspelot h^rerett briide med 3 qvadrater, som pft midten are furenade, Jemte SU 
brickor af olika fitrg. Spelarne ilro tvenuo, som taga i banden hvar siua brlckor. Sedan man 
Ofverenskommit om, hvllkeu som skall satta ffirsta brickan, uts&ttas briokorua skiftesvis. 
Dervid iakttagei) : Alt itigeu bricka far s&ltas utan 1 horn eller vinkol, och hvllkeu, som 
f&r 3 brickor i en rad, vare sif? Kings qvadratorna eller laugs deras midtel, iiger att fran 
br&det borttaga eu af motspclareos brickor, som ban anser farliga^t, dock icku af motspe- 
laruns trctal, kuiu k alias slaten qvarn, Det iir 8;iIedo8 angeliget fur buda spelarne, att vid 
utsfittningeu p» eu gung soka forckomma motspelaren, att ik tretal och mod det samma be- 
reda sig detsamma. Sedan alia brickor dro utsatta, drages en bricka i sUnder fran hOru 
eller vinkol till horn eller viukel, allt miMl bcriikniug af tretal, och den, som fSrst Icke &ger 
mer ftn 2 brickor (ivar, har forlorat partiet.** We intended to copy here, iu the original, 
the complete aocouut of the murullu given in the "Tom Wilson** "spclbok,** but we refrain 
because we cannot bo sure how much of it refers to the actually existing Swedish game and 
bow much is due to the French work, which is the source of the narrative. The eompilor of 
this book of games is still living in Stockholm, but the librarians and booksellers do not 
agree as to his real name. On our preceding p. 12S (foot-note), in an extract from the ** Deutsche 
Schachzeituug," the Swedish **lIand-Uibliothok*' is erroneously styled *<y/us.ltibIlothek.*> 

18 



138 CHESS IN ICELAND 



times accustomed to begin "jumping" when they have but four men left 
instead of three. Then follows a brief notice of the ntarelle triple found in 
the French original (flg. 8), with the important information that some people 
believe this to be the game described by Palamedes, '* which historians have 
thought to be chess or draughts/' Next we have a still more concise notice 
of the marelle quadruple {alquerque). The end of the article is the French 
compiler's marelle quintuple, that is to say fox-and-geese, the detailed exposi- 
tion of which we shall hereafter translate. Of the history of the morris game 
the compilers of these Swedish works tell us nothing; and we have come 
across no allusion to it in Swedish general literature, although such refe- 
rences probably occur. 

And now we come finally to the Icelandic morris. Fortunately we have 
in a late work — from which we shall quote largely farther on in this volume — 
a detailed account of the game as it has been played in the northern island 
for centuries— for more than two at any rate. The work to which we refer 
is called "Islenzkar skeratanir" (Copenhagen 1888-92), and is a sort of con- 
tinuation of the treatise on riddles by the late distinguished folklorist and 
head of the Icelandic national library, J6n Arnason, which is styled'" islenz- 
kar gatur, pulur og skemtanir," in the fourth part of which is contained 
the skemtanir or "amusements." The author of this sequel or supplement 
is the well-known student, 6lafur DaviUsson, who confesses that he is 
himself not very familiar with the table games of which he treats, but we 
are bound to acknowledge that he has known not only how to get at those 
people who are, but also to study with some care, if not thoroughly, the 
immense manuscript treasures relating to similar subjects which are pre- 
served in Icelandic libraries and archives. He frequently cites, for instance, 
the manuscript vocabulary of great size composed in the early half of the 
XVIIlth century by J6n Olafsson of Grunnavik (so styled from the place of 
his residence), *32 in which much attention was given to games familiar to 
the Icelandic people, and the technical words connected with them. Of 
what 6lafur DaviOsson says of mylna in Iceland we shall make a rough 
summary, afterwards appending the original text. We ought properly to 
preface it by the statement that neither here nor elsewhere do we find 
any mention of the three men morris as known in the island, nor of any 
other variety of the morris game than the older (or mediaeval) nine men 
morris, (the three quadrangles connected only by right lines). The com- 
piler of the "Skemtanir" begins by saying that "Mylna is played upon a 
board of the character here exhibited (fig. 7). There are two players ; each 
of them having nine men, beads or other counters to play with, which 
must be of different colors, one set, for instance, being light and the other 
dark. Lots are cast as to who shall first play or set his man, and he who 

^ Olftfur DavidMon deieribet the huge dictionary of this Anther In the Introdaetlon 
(Inngangur, p. 6) to his etMy on IceUndic cheu — an e«tay which owe« much to the 18tli 
century lexicographer. The manuscript, as he says, is still preserved in that wonderful 
store-bouse of learning, the Arna-Magnaean collection at Copenhagen. The worda of 6lafar 
Daviftsson are as follows : " Jou 6lafsson fri Grunnavilc [d. 1799] samdl hlna islenska orte- 
bok sina nm mi&Ja 18 did og skyrir hdn l>vi eflauvt heist fr& itlenskum lelkjum fri tyrri 
hlata 18 aldar. Annars hl^tur Jon a& hafa haft t>etta rit undir i mdrg ir, |)Ti |>aS er okkl 
kastaft hdudnnum aft sliku st6rvirkl. OrSab6kin er 9 biudi i arkarbroti og er ekkl til oema 4 
einuin sta9, saful Ama Magniissonar i Kmh. (nr. 433, I>IX, fol.).** Words relating to gaiMM 
are espeelally well represented in this inedited lexieon. 



STRAY NOTES 139 



thos has to begin puts a man on some point on the board, after whicti the 
other enters one of his, and so alternately until both have used up all 
their pieces. Most players endeavour to form a ^mill* {mylna)^ which is 
done when one of the contestants arranges his pieces in a straight line 
on three acUoining points. He who has made a 'mill* may then capture 
one of the pieces of his opponent and put it off the board, but he is not 
allowed to capture from a 'milP already completed or closed (loka9^. 
If either, for example, has a 'mill* on 5, u &nd t<, or A n, and u, then he 
may capture any one of the opponent's pieces lie pleases, except those which 
stand in a completed 'mill,* but every piece of a player is considered to 
be en prise if his opponent can play one of his men upon the point properly 
belonging to it. In other respects it is not so easy to set the men rightly 
on a morris board, and good players consider it to be more important that 
the men stand favourably when they are all placed than to form a 'mill' 
while the process of placing them is going on. Nor is it easy to lay down 
rules for the entering of the men, but it may be considered that it is always 
good to have men at the central points ^, n, k and t. When all the men 
are placed, then the player who entered the last but one begins to 
move, and after that each one moves alternately. The pieces can go to the 
nearest point in a right line, both combatants trying to play so that they 
can make 'mills' and use them, for it is of little advantage to have a 
'mill' which is not ready to ^spenna upp* (be opened up) and capture with 
afterwards [by reclosing it]. If one player, for instance, possesses a 'mill' 
on ^, h and i and the other has men on <?, I and m^ then the 'mill' is useless 
for the time being, but if the former can move the piece which stands 
on ^ to 2 (that is spenna the 'mill') and from I again to g (that is, loka 
henni^ 'close it'), then he has revived his 'mill' and may capture whichever 
of his adversary's pieces he wishes, except those which stand in a closed 
'mill.' It is, of course, understood that each one tries to move a piece i 
i^faptinn^ that is to say, into the vacant spot or point of a 'mill' which his 
opponent is opening (jpetmtr), in order to hem in (or shut out) the piece 
which has Just moved off its proper spot, and meanwhile is considered to bo 
an exposed man. If one for instance has opened his 'mill' &, e and h (mo- 
ving his piece from e to f), and the other has a piece at cl, then he iuovch it 
to e and thus makes the 'mill* worthless. 

Besides the simpler kinds of ' mills,' there are others, such aHsvikaviyhm, 
krossmylna and rennihestur, Smkamylna is that position in whi(!h a plnynr 
can make a 'mill' at every play, or close a 'mill' and open anothnr /it lli«i 
same move. If, for example, he possesses men at .v, k and '/, and at /< n\u\ 
A, and the points is vacant, then he can move d io e and r. to d, ilnin u^n\^ 
ing a 'mill' each time he plays. If the other player han a i»l«'n nt f, «»•»»» 
the maker of the 'mill' must capture it if it be pOHMible to do »*», fot <»i1m.» 
wise his opponent can spoil {hinda) the svikdtnyLna, A kmntntyhm (it "Ih 
ciform 'mill') is when one player has pieces on all |>oirit« 011 two t^v^mti^|^^^ 
lines except the middle one, for example //, rf, f. and A. A« Jo n.« f pm*m 
hestur^ writers do not agree as to its character. J6n Olaf»»»ton ««y« ih«l Im» 
who has a rennihestur can capture many pieces at onm. t'or»ifolfin I'ii llntn. 
son explains that rennihestur is a svikamylna and kroHMmyhtn luitnhhiud, fnf 
example the men on a, &, c, d, /• and h. Otlujrn nny that r^tniihi^^hst l» h 
position with pieces for example on a, c, //, /*, {/, and /. and nn iih» nl M».. 



140 CHESS IN ICELAND 



points &, e, or h, A rennihesiur is like a svikamylna in this respect, that 
with it it is easy to capture a piece at every move, but yet it is entirely dif- 
ferent in some respects at least. We do not know,'' says the writer, "the 
rennihesiur feature in the north (of Iceland). 

When any one has a svikamylna or rennihesiur^ it is, so to speak, impos- 
sible for the other one to win, but yet the game is not wholly finished before 
one of the players has lost so many men that he cannot make a 'miir or, in 
other words, seven of his nine pieces. Some say that it is a complete 'win- 
ning' at mybia if a player can hem in the pieces of the other so that they 
cannot be moved, but others maintain that such a game counts only as a 
half. It is thought to be something of an honour to place one's men so well 
at the beginning of a game that the pieces of the other player are hemmed 
in before he has captured a man. J6n 6lafsson has a drawing of the mylna 
board just as it is to-day, but gives no detailed explanation of it. He says 
that krossmylna has another name, vcengjamylna. Mylna is in its origin 
foreign, just like chess and backgammon, but the author thinks it well to 
give a description of it, for it is largely played in Iceland, and various expres- 
sions are used in connection with it which are very common and popular. 
The Rev. Hallgrlmur Pdtursson (see p. 37), in his poem on table-games, 
mentions neither the morris nor fox-and-geese^ and we might infer from 
this that neither of these names were used at that period, but this would not 
prove that the games themselves were not then practised." ^^ Olafur Davlfts- 

^^ It will be learned from a page immediately following this that the celebrated bymnol* 
ogist docs mention the morris under one of its rarely used and probably older names. — 
We add here, as usual, tbe Icelandic text of 6lafur Davi^ssou in full : ^* Mylna er telfd 
eptir t>es8ari mynd [fig. 7]. Tveir tefla. Hvor |)e{rra befir nil toflar e^a gler o. •. frr. til 
aS tefla me^, og ver^a |)au aft vera mislit, hvit t. d. 5drum meginn, en dOkkleit binom mo* 
ginu. Peir kasta hlutkesti um hvor fyr skuli setja. Si, sum d aft byrja, setur tolu k einhvem 
reit i tafliun. I>& setur hinn, og svo koll af kolli, l)angaft til hvortvcggi befir sett allar tdlar 
fioar. Flestir leitast vift aft koma s6r upp mylun, en )>aft cr mylna I>egar aunarhvor 4 tSlar 
d I>remnr reituro, sem liggja i boinni linu hvor vift annan. S& sem befir felagift mvlnni m4 
drepa etna t51u fyrir hinum, og cr hdn ]>& lir sdgunni. P6 md baun ekkl drepa ixt lokaftrl 
mylnu. fif annarbvor d t. d. myluu a «, < og u efta u, n og /, ]^k md hann drepa hverja tfilu, 
sem bann vill fyrir binum, ncroa I)8Br sem standa i mylnu, en dripp er bver tafia annars* 
hvors, ef m6tstSftamaftur bans getur loikift einhverri af t6f1um sinum d reft hennar. Aonars 
er talsverftur vandi aft sotja tOlurnar i mylnntafli, og t>ykir goftum taflmOnnnm melr* komlft 
undir t)v{, aft tClurnar standi haganlega, l>egar btllfter aft setJa t>9cr allar, en aft fd mylna meftaa 
▼erift er aft setJa |)sor. Ekki er bsegt aft gefa reglnr fyrir setningunnl, en I>6 md get* t»em, aS 
altaf er gott aft elga tSlur d miftreitunum e, 1:, n og i. 

Pegar biiift er aft setja allar t^lurnar, leikur sa, sem setti n»st selnast, svo bvor epdr 
annan. T51urnar ganga d nsesta reft vift |>{er, eptir beinam linum. Rdftir leitast vift ab l«lka 
))annig, aft }>elr fdi mylnur, og get! notaft sir t>ier, I>Ti ))aft ur til litils gagns aft oiga mylna. Mm 
ekkl er biegt aft spenna upp og drepa meft aptar. Ef annar d t. d. mylna d 9, A og < ea 
binn tOlur d e, 2 og m, |)d verftur mylnan aft raikln leyti 6n^t i brdft, en ef sd fyrri getnr fsert 
tdluna, sem stendnr d g til U spent bana, og frd I aptar til y, lokaft henni, l>d heflr hMui 
;^ngt mylnu sina upp, og md drepa bverja tSIu f^rir binum sem bann vill, noma ]»aer wm 
standa i lokaftrl roylnn. Paft segir sig |)vi sjdlft, aft bvor fyrir slg reynir til aft tera tWa i 
kjaptlnn d mylnum l)elm, sem m6tstdftamaftar bans spennir, efta bin da l>8er l>vi t>iGr era m4U> 
laasar d meftan. Ef annar befir t. d. speuta mylnu, &, e, h, og binn d tola d d, |>d f»rlr 
hann bana d e, og 6n^tlr ])annlg mylnnna. 

Aak einfaldrar mylnu er til ivikamylna^ kroismylna 03: rennihettur. Svikamylna er ^aft, 
|>egar annarbvor getar komlft sdr upp mylnu vift bvem leik efta lokift mylna og spant aSra 
i sama leiknam. Bf annarbvor d t. d. tOlur d «, k, og J og 6 og A, en reiturinn or anftor, |>d 
getur bann fssrt <2, d « og e d. d, og fengift ]>annlg roylnu i bvert skipti sem hann lelknr. Bf 
hinn d tdla d /, pk verftur mylnumafturinu aft drepa bana, ef mCgulegt er, i>vi annan gotor 
m6tat5ftamaftur hant bandlft avikamylnana. Krottmylna er ]>egar annarbvor d t51ur 4 Ollooi 



STRA r yo TES 141 



son has a foot-note at the end of his e^say stating' ili.it iho rnnrris tranro i:« 
played in England exactly as it is played in Ieeian>l. a« r..ay l>o seen in an 
account in "Drengernes e^jcn bos" (Copenhau'en. !>■>, jip. ;U-:>t), ulnrli js a 
translation from the Kntrlish -Bov'sown hfn.ik." .V»/ » •». he s.-iv*., i^ aImi 
played in Denmark, and is there calle I -woVjV. A;* to tl:-; lorin Ar/'o mi. »/'"•'. 
it evidently signifies "mills" in process of fonuati-m i^n iwn lines, ••ne «»f 
which runs across the other, or is at right angles t-* it. This is slmwn l-y 
the synonymous term r^<?*Kt/V?,/<#//mr. in whicli one mi tiie n.tws m- "»i<//^" 
stands like a *'wing" (vuingitr) to the other. Sc',hn.itfln'f seems t«» cum* 
spond to the Swedish klapitqearn or ^'parallel mill/' while rc/iHiV./v/'/i-, in 
ils verbal signification, recalls the rcndconHO' of the Danes. As ti> tlie alhi 
sion to the leikxdia 'May oi games," of Ilallgrimur I'i'tursson il»»ll 1H. tin* 
fitniOQS author of the -'Passion Hymns," it may be stated that tahlo-j:anie> 
are not referred to in any early existing copies: but in his other similar 
piece of rhyme, the toflcOfr, *'lay of tables." of whirh *!n hii:h an authoiiiy 
as Gisli Konrat>s«on, the late distinguished occupant (»r ilie li-elanilic* chair 
at Copenhagen, deems him to be surely tiie author. \v«- lind l):i'k:jaiii 
men, in several varieties, mentioned, while the morris gan.e is L'iveu n |iia<«' 
under the obscurer name of pvriOift. *-' In another .nil.-. lion of 'iian/a 
on games, called "Ellideilur," which was disctjxerei in 1**'h> in tli" A l\» 
cates' library at Edinburgh, allusion is made to tabic games in ;r»*niMal, l-w 
only by the introduction of the verb fe/f'^ mcanin;: to **play at tahh'-. 

rdtam acibfaTerjam krowifnum, neoia mi^reltDUiu, t. d.b,d,/ ox A- Ajitiir lit-r iiM'Ufiurri ik^ 
Munan am renniheat, Jt'm Ulaf«son se^r, a? t4, •cm c\i\ reiiuihcttf u'cH 'In>|)i^ inar.;ir '■: r 
i daa. Pontplun Krllnyuon •egtr, a^ rmnlhr^tar ni ivikamylua o^; kroKimylua •im< li*** <• 
t im IMor a, fr, c, d, /, 05 A. A^rlr aesja, a^ rennlLi'«tiir m"* t«ilar k t. d. «, r, d, /, y :jr 1 
ielabrerjum reitaBDa &, < e^* k. Riniaibeotur it viiih o^ Rvikuinylii.'i it^ | vi li;. '.i, «' 
honum er bsp^ a^ drepa tulu i hvcrjaiu Iclk, en l)o cr bann talnvt-rt ii^ruvi*! «-iii« u/ -■.' ' ' 
Kf ^kkl ekkl ri-nnilKriit a?i nor^an. 

I*ef Ar aanarhTor hefir svikaniylim aVa rennlhoit, er svo a^ Mtrj.-t oii<;/<i<« /i f.. r r :. 
■S Tioaa, CD ]>6 er Uflin ckki ^tklji^ fyrir fult 09 alt, fyr vn annarlivor hfdr r. 't cv^, ^ . / . ■ 
tSlnr, a) hann gctur ekkl feiuglQ loylnu, e^^ sjii tiilur mc^ u^runi ol^lllu. S >ii. r t .« . 
Ilka fullan vinuiug i myloa, ef anuar getur fe^t nvo tolur hint, :i^ ]iriiii v< r^i 1 ko- :• • 
a»rlr telja alikt a« eins bilfan Tinning. I>a9 pykir ckki Htllitn fr*-?^. a^ mt,* • ,! r 
vel i taflbyrjan, aft iSlur bina festiat, a>ar en kemar til inanndrniin. 

J6a Olafaion faeflr mynd af niylniitafll, alveg einn ok 1>h^ cr «nii i <l«if, * m. • . -• 1; 
haan |>Ti aft markl. Haun avglr a> kroasniylna hoiti rtrni/jnmtjlint «>'rii ii l!iii. 'I, . . . 
dtiend aft appruna, efna og ukoutajl og lotra, cu lui-r Jtotti )io ri'-ttar.-i :i* I;.*! h' i.r. ■ 
iMBftI er huD tefld mjug lulkift a i^lattdi, og avo koma fyrir i Inniil yinii if.f.. ■'■»• • - . / 

))J6ftl^. 8^ra Ilallgrimur Petaraaon ncfuir hvorki rvfukak u«'> uiylnti i tvi!-. i->i *m.i.\ ',/ *> 
ef tU Till r4fta af )ivi, aft hroragt nafni? hatl ti^kazt uni \y.^-T mini'lir, mi i.,i' ;. .1 < r ' # > ■ ,- 
aft tGflia bafi ekkl veri?^ li>kuft t>d.*' In bid notcM Olafur \ia.\\' *..'ni l<IU i.^ •• ;.' .. 
autboritiea, Till Djarnaiion, ha4 beard tbu verb ^'aftapana' iih<'I U.t *' '.- 
''apenna app.** He likew!a« Informa us tbat In Iceland, aa in other r-f.iniirl' ' *:'•'. i./ . .• 
ara found containing hackgaoinion, cbcaa {tkuktajT) and niorri« (m'/ht.ii-t>',, 1 >.i. 
when tbe two flap* arc abut, tbu men uaed for tbe gamm. 

*** An account of thia game, po far an anything can )m) h arncl nU'.- * I', • ■-' / 
in tbe text on tbe next page. At to Ilallgrimur rt-tnrKHon, wi fm'! 1 '• hi t»i'" • ' x.. 
of the word ta/l — aignifying, aa munt be borne in nilnO, rlthtr iii< *•« m n.n.tt •,*,.» 1 •. >... 
gaoM— In tbe teeond volome of tbe recent memorial edition *>{ hia |iU4itl<-iii -r-firip ■ ' i",,.,, ,, 
Of kTsrfti/* Reykjavik, 1890, I., p. 416), 

Trvy^t el : tro branuu 
Tajii bdlfunnu ; 

and agmfn (p. 437): 

Opt or aaga n tafli^ 

aeillier of whieb pvaagoa tbrowa any apeeial ligbt on our Ibvuic 



142 CHESS IN ICELAND 



Dr. J6n t^orkelsson, archivist of Iceland, regards the author of this to bo 
J6n J6Dson, who dwelt at Helgavatn, and the date of its composition to be 
between 1630 and 1650. These lines read : 

X>e8si Bkeiu met fegorft og (ryg'bf 
FargaM allri manusins Btyg9, 
Seggjnm marga BieUeiks dyg9 
Sag^ist kuona nt veita; 
Danaa og te/la dreiDgJnm band, 
Dr68 var ekki k ]?sA traoft, 
GleSinnar efldu allan aaS, 
Sem k kann bjartat leita. 

The four stanzas wliich follow enumerate the various athletic, musical and 
other sports. There are several allied pieces of verse in Icelandic literature, 
some of which are printed or cited by Olafur DaviQsson (pp. 361-365). One is 
ascribed to the patriotic and warlike last catholic bishop of H6Iar, J6n Arason, 
in which tables, cards, chess and backgammon, with music, are mentioned: 

Til hefi' eg ta/t meS Bpiloiu, 
Tolar Mm leggi og Tdlnr, 
Skdk me'b Bkdfham hr6katu, 
8kj6tt og kotra liorn6tta 
H5rpa keldar snarpa, 
Hreysta lueS gimifi ueistam 
¥6d. med fOgram i»6ui, 
Feingift til lykla og streingi. 

This is said to have been composed about 1530. Allusions to so popular a 
game must, as we have said, occur in Icelandic records — old diaries or letters 
for instance — of which so many are preserved unpublished both in Iceland 
and Denmark. And there is no doubt that in the remoter regions of the 
island traditions, phrases and proverbs, relating to rtiylna, are still await- 
ing the collector. Let us hope that some scholar of the scholarly land 
will yet bring all these things together, and throw new light upon the 
story of a social diversion which was once so widely spread and practised, 
and is still, in its various forms, a source of enjoyment in many lands. 

Before taking Unal leave of the Icelandic morris we ought, however, in 
this connection, to state that some manuscript works, which treat of social 
diversions, mention a game called Freystaflt which the writer J6n Olafsson 
mistakingiy cites from the F16ventKaga, his assumed, or wrongly located 
quotation being as follows : " HeiOingjar s6ttu eptir F16vent, en sa er nsestur 
var i eptirreiBinni t^nir snart lift sinu, og er svo k a8 lita viOskipti t)eirra, 
sera maliur leiki Freystafl og eigi jafna r()6, og leiki ur annari 1 aftra, og 
taki hverju sinni einn senn ; og sem hann snerist i moti, la hver fallinn, er 
fyrir honum varO.'' The same writer says that this Freystafl must be the 
same as the game known as fceringarlafl (or as Hallgrimur P^tursson calls 
it, fceriiaft). He says that it is played without dice, and that there are three 
lines in it; (in Latin, ^Uribus ordinibus constans''). Olafur DaviOsson ob- 
serves that both these ilames may really represent the morris game, the 'Hhree 
lines*' describing the parallel lines which form each side of the major mor- 
ris. In the passage referring to the Freystafl^ whencever it may be derived, 
the expression Jofuro^, meaning "even lines'* or "full lines,** is a proper 
enough title for the double or parallel mills {svikamylna)^ of which we have 
heard so much, and the phrase "leiki lir annari i adra, og taki hverju sinni 



STRAY \OTES 143 



einn senn** (''plays out of the one into the other and takes a man once 
every time"), represents the method of play and capture by means of the 
svikatnylna. It should be remarked that Gu?>brandur Vigfusson explains 
this "game of Frey " as •* probably what is now called fjothiUiff^" citin? also 
the Floventsaga, having perhaps discovered a passage in another chapter 
than that (the Vth) to which it is assigned by J6n Olafsson. But no great 
heed need be given to this opinion, as we have already learned how unfamil- 
iar with table games was the Oxford lexicographer. ** 

The game of go^atafl is said by some writers to be played witli dice and 
we are told that no special board is needed for its practice: others state 
that it may be played on a table-board, or back-gammon board ; some again 
declare that the proper number of men is twenty, but Konrad Maurer ("Oer- 
mania'* XIV, 1869, p. 108) says that it is played with 32 men. Jon Olafsson 
explains that the men are white and black, and that the white ones are 
each as valuable as two black ones ; with this rule, it is said, not so many 
men are necessary. The word fceritafl is not cited in the Oxford Icelandic 
dictionary. If it be true that besides mylna C'mulino,*' ''miihlenspier*) 
there are these other names for the Icelandic morris — vernacular names as 
it would appear — the fact places another face, not only upon the date of its 
introduction into the country, but also upon the source whence it came. The 
Floventsaga, one of the fabulous sagas, was written certainly as far back 
as the earlier half of the XVth century. In fact, a vellum manuscript of it, 
in the handwriting of that period, exists in the Arna-Magniean collection at 
Ck>penhagen. The manuscript was transcribed in Iceland, so that at that 
time the Preystafl may have been known (but see above). 

There are doubtless various, if not many, allusions to mylna among the 
old letters and old note-books, and the collections of inedited verse and 
prose, which the author of the present sketch has failed to delve out from 
those public and private libraries of Iceland to which we just alluded, 
but the search for them must be left to other hands. What we have gleaned 
indicates that mylna must have been familiar in Icelandic homes before 
the XVIIth century had closed, leaving out the question of its identity with 
Freystafl, It also indicates that mylna could have had no connection 
with hnefatafl^ or any similar game, existing in the old saga times. The 
name of the morris game (if there be in truth no earlier appellation than 
mylna) in the Icelandic tongue is evidence enough that it must have 
reached the island by way of Germany, Denmark or Norway, and that its 
path thus diverged from that followed by the game of chess. In other 
words, its arrival in Iceland post-dates the appearence of hnefatad in the 
sagas. Besides the light which these facts, or inferences, throw upon 
the character of the old saga game, they are likewise of some weight in 
estimating the real age and source of m&t'clles. Those who argue that 
either Greece or Rome was the primary home of this line-game will have 
difficulty in showing why it should not have reached France, then England, 
and afterwards Iceland at a much earlier dale. Those who attempt, on the 
other hand, to prove that it, or at least some variety of it, came into Spain 
from the east, must confess that its arrival took place after the coming of 

*» Neither Freytajl nor /arinyaWayf are found in Frltzner'a *«Ordbog" (1886-96), which 
wonld indicAie that the former need not be sought lu FlovcnUaga ; nor do vre remember to 
h*Te tees it in the printed text of that ancient work edited by Cederscfajdld. 



144 CHESS IN ICELAND 



chess, else it ought to have crossed the Pyrenees, the British Channel and 
the Icelandic seas in company with the greatest of table games. Our investi- 
gations have been too superficial and too restricted to enable us to discuss 
this larger question, vrhich, in its character, is not unlike that which makes 
the story of tables so obscure. 

We have, as a starting point, on the one side, the simple little game 
described by Ovid, though too vaguely to make it absolutely certain that it 
has anything to do with our theme, but there we lose all trace of what 
more than one archaeologist has asserted to be the three men morris of a 
later age. To the game of tables we find apparent allusions not long after 
the downfall of the Roman empire, but we do not catch a glimpse of any- 
thing resembling the morris game during the 1000 years which follow the 
age of the Roman poet. On the other side the indefinite character of our 
knowledge in regard to the codex of Alfonso yields only a slight foot-hold 
for the belief that the morris game, like chess, came from Perso-Arabic 
regions into the Iberian peninsula. We are only sure that the Escorial Codes 
contains an account of a game played upon a design or '* scheme'* composed 
of four throe-men -morris boards, and that this game bore, and perhaps 
still boars, an Arabic name. Whether the forms of the morris game of the 
higher class which appeared a little later on the hither side of the Pyrenees • 
are described in the codex or not we cannot at present say. When Spanish 
scholars make up their minds to tell us what the non-chess portions of the 
codex really are, we shall very likely be able to advance a step in our re- 
searches. Of course it is possible that the Saracens, who imparted so much 
to the European world, may themselves have borrowed something from the 
declining Latin civilization. The early invaders of Spain and Sicily may 
have found the smaller morris in vogue among the peoples they had con- 
quered, and afterwards developed from it the larger morris, or they may 
have discovered the latter already grown to maturity. They may have con- 
ferred upon it a name of their own, just as the Europeans— supposedly at 
least — did in the case of nerd or nard^ which we are told originally came 
from the Indo- Persic world. These, however, are only conjectures, and it 
is not impossible that none of them may ever assume the aspect of cer- 
tainties. Still we do not despair of the future efforts of the modern spirit 
of research, and the shrewd judgment of modern scholarship. 

We conclude this portioa. of our subject by a hasty summary. There 
exists a group of line-games— thus called, as we have explained, because 
the men or pieces used in them are entered on the intersections of the lines 
along which they are moved— this group comprising the following varieties: 
the three men morris, the nine men morris, and the twelve men morris, 
the basis of all of which are lines united to form one or more quadrangles 
—all of which have been largely played, at any rate since the Xllth or 
Xlllth century, among both the Latin and Teutonic nations. To these 
differing forms must be added certain games of a composite nature, such 
as the so called alquerque^ made up of four three men morris boards, and 
the well known fox-and-geese^ originated by uniting Ave of the smaller 
morris boards. To these again may be subjoined one or two varieties of 
doubtful origin and prevalence, such as the mulinello doppio (or mdrelle 
double) shewn in our fig. 3. This last is perhaps an imitation, or growth 
of modern days, but none of these varied diversions help us in determining 



sr^^y >. n>^ 



>^^ 



V 






r»ii*eT f*m3ML 



.Si 



vs 



^1 



^» 



ft 



i' 



— vhoDr zb^derr :c i» iirf!:ii:»i*— is ;,•» be f^-:Ei :r AlSax vas H4i.n> "*5^>k 

cite agmiB. Ii iaciTiie* loih \ht lil^^^e ilm sxvrris *ai the ii:tK' »« r.-.^rrw^s 
aad prw the for-^er := nrc* shipes. on* a -K\iri with ;? jxxnts" wsi aix^ a 
^board with nine 5.:,aares-*' In ;he illusinuve iircir«i of K^Oi tV JfcifiAr 
HKMTis and the itaj^r E.:.rr:s a ii?ia::?r. <;— ::ir :^ ih*; cr^p^NT^,: :- .->i<^ 
is made use of. TLe Tenieai or }-er- ^^ 
pendimlar lines are indicated fro::. 
left to rigilt bj letters of the alpha- 
bet, and the transrers'e or horixontal 
lines, from below, upward, by num- 
bers. This enables the compiler to 
gire examples of games. The - mill " 
or muhU is indicated by an M ! The 
games are naturally divided into two 
parts, the first bein^ the entering of 
the men, the second, their moves and 
final completion of the game. We 
give a diagram (fig. Km of the nine 
men morris with the notation, and a 
specimen of a game with notes and 
variations. It must bo remembered 



44 



Cl 



J. 

Jt 



<• 



«« 



Ki^. li>. 



that on the formation of a "mill," the one who makes it has a ri^ht to tako 
one of his opponent's men from the board. The iwir^iV wliioh \vo oopv <V\m« 
Hahn is as follows : 



a. The men enter 



White. 

1. on a3 

2. » gl 

3. » bl 

4. » f3 

5. » d4 



Black. 

on b3 
. b2 
» d5 
» d6 



White. 

G, on c2 
7. • fl 

^. » 1^ M I ^ 
takes d2 n 
9. on g2 



Hl-ACK, 

on o:^ 
» d2 

• d2 



i» A tingaUr Tolume-to which we hare already referred In our note upon tho m.-raluru 
of ibo game, of the andent—relaUng largely to the Inyentlon and .uppo.od dcrvl«»u„ *uTf 
the mir^lUs, or the game of merrtlU, as the author .tylei It, t. John ChrUtle*. - R,i« ilrv Im [ 
the ancient Greek game luppoied to hare been Invented by Palainede.»» (London \M\\ ti 
work i. fall of n,I.applied erudition The writer argtie. that the game of Palam^^dw wa. il « 
Greek petieia, from which i. derived the morri. game, the |«cl« latrtincHlorHm, and « 
aately chew. He critlci.e. with «ome «»verlty the writing, of Hyde and HIr AVUIam Joh . 
and Indeed all -the erroneous conceptiont entertained of thU game by the dllfor.Hi * 

senator, npon it. for besides the remark. I hav a«otcd from Somai.e, we fl?;?w^^^^ 
Meurslo., 8outer, Balengerns and even the groat Casaubon equally conlradloiory and . "' 
elusive." He finally carries the p.iMa from Qreoee to the north of China whTr. u **"* 
Into -M Intermediate sUte between the perfeol chess and the genuine «./IW« * .A *'!"" 
he finds the sacred square or line uq^ yQafSfn) of the p^ttHa rrpreswUd by Ik. ,u ^ ^^ 

J •■*• inree man 



10 



146 



CHESS IN ICELAND 



b. The men move: 




10. f2-e2 ab-al 13. f2-e2 


d5-b3 


11. gl-dl b2-a2 14. f3-d5 


White has won, as 


12. e2-feM!| ^^^ 
takes d2 S 


black is hemmed in. 



But black, just before the beginning of section &, might have placed his last 
man on e2 instead of g3, leading to the following continuation, in which white 
obtains, in his 11th and 12th moves, a "double milP' or zicichmiihle: 



White. 

10. g2-g3 

11. f2-g2 M ! ) 
takes e2 ' ) 

12. g2-f2 M I ^ 
takes el ) 

13. f2-g2 M I i 
takes el ^ 



Black. 
d2-d3 
d3-el 

a2-al 

b2-a2 



14. bl-b2 

15. gl-dl 

16. dl-al 



a2-al 
al-a2 
hemmed in. 



or 



16. dl-gl M I 
takes a2 



hemmed in. 



The author states, that, in his opinion, the morris game has a certain but 
not very close similarity to the great Japanese go-bang^ which makes use of 
a square board of 19 vertical and 19 perpendicular lines, on the intersections 
of which the game is played, each party having 181 men.*^? 

Fox-and'Geese (refsk^k). — The second game of a minor character to 
which the hnefatafi of the saga period has been referred, is that, which, in 
the lands where English speech prevails, is known as fox-and -geese. It has 
a not dissimilar title in most of the continental countries, as, for instance, in 
Germany, fuchs- und hUhnerspiel^ **fox-and-hens" (or fucTis im hUhnerhof). 
As we shall shortly have occasion to see, it stands in an intimate relation to 
m6rellos— being of the same class of line games. One of the most notable 
authorities on Icelandic antiquities, the present head of the Reykjavik nation- 
al museum, following an earlier writer, of whom we shall speak on a later 
page, maintains that the game of fox-and-geese is identical with hnefatafi^ or, 
at least, with one form of that ancient diversion. 

It is proper to say at the outset that the fox-and-geese board, in compar- 
atively modern times, has begun to be used for games more or less different 

morris board, which he coiicoivea to bo the proper origiu of the inner aquare of the nine men 
luorris, really ropreaenting a sheep-fold among the Scythian berdamon. Oat of tbia Inter- 
mediate form in China grew the game of chesa, which aubscqueutly spread to India and Ro- 
rope. The book ia well worthy of consultation for the aake of Ita logenlooa errora and of 
ita illnatratiopa, especially ita fanciful vignette portraying the origin — among ahepherda — of 
the morris game. 

"^ Just a« the full proofa of thia section have been read there cornea a valoabla roferenee 
from Mr. John Q. White, of Cleveland, United Stat*iS — whose familiarity with every portion 
of cheaa literature ia now hardly excelled— which fortunately ean be inserted here. He aska: 
*'Have yon not overlooked You der Laaa'a auggeation that the different names and thapoa 
given to the men in the mediaeval m^rellea manuacripta were merely devices to aaalat In 
recording the movea? From examination of the gamoa recorded, it seems that all theao 
differently shaped and named men had the same moves, the same powers. Apparently tho 
thought of numbering the inrersectiona had not occurred to the authors, and hence, tho 
adoption of these devices as a meana of notation merely.*' ThIa aeems to explain the mat- 
ter aatlafaetorlly. 



STRAY NOTES 



147 



in their nature, especially for one called in England solitaire and in France 
^* English solitaire"' and for another, known in Spain and Italy as asaJUo 
{assalto)^ in French as assaui, in Danish as helejringsspel. In this game, or 
in ode of these games, the upper square of the fox-and-gecse cross is trans- 
formed into a fortress, usually by drawing bastions or a wall around it, which 
a portion of the pieces employed are supposed to besiege ; but all such di- 
versions are much younger than the board on which they are played, that is 
to say much more modern than the original fox-and-geese. It is not easy 
however, to cite many early mentions of the game in any literature, since it 
has evidently always been, for the most part, limited to the rustic classes, 
with which, in English lands at any rate, it is still popular. 



fi 



1 



R" 



8 



9 



/ 



/ I 



I 



\ 



21 



22 



2? 



/ 



/ 



/ 



/ 



"71 



\ I 



.15 



y 



I 



/N 



16 



I 



--'-I'- ^8 



/ i ^- 

I 
I 



2j4 
! 

^N ! / 



-9 



28 



\ 



I 



d'C'^" 



A 



I \ 

I 



31 



6 



12 



13 



! / 

/ 
/ 



I- _^ _«j 



/ 



I 
f 



/ 



25 



26 



J^ 



27 



30 



32 

Fig. 11. 



33 



Pursuing, as nearly as may be, the same geographical order as in treating 
m^relles, we find no distinct data as to the age of fox-and-geese in Spain; indeed 
we are left in some doubt by Brunet y Bellet in regard to the mention of this 
game in the codex of Alfonso. The modern author gives a drawing of the 
board, and some matter relating to the game in the very pages in which he 
is treating that manuscript, but he bestows no Spanish name on the board 
other, than the recent one of *'asalto,'' although, as will be remembered, 
he quotes the ordinary English title. None of the accessible Spanish lexico- 
graphers aid us. 



148 CHESS IX ICELA ND 



In Italy, particularly in its Northern and central parts, the old style of 
board is still frequently seen. "Le nouvelle Alberti" (1855) gives first the French 
title, making it— as do most of the lexicons— jeu de renard^ and then inter- 
prets it in Italian as giuoco della volpe. As a matter of fact, if it be some 
times called volpe ('' fox ''), it is much more commonly named lupo e peeore 
(*^wolf and sheep''). In some of the dictionaries of low Latin is cited a 
game called vulpes, but no date is suggested and no citations are given 
for the use of this title. Most of the Italian books on games describe 
the method of play. We abridge the rules given by one of these works, 
but the full text will be found in the note printed below :*» "It is played 
with one piece {volpe) and with 13 pawns (polli^ "chickens") which are ar» 
ranged (fig. II) on the 13 points (caselle) of the board numbered from 1-13; the 
opposing piece or fox is placed upon whatever vacant point its player may 
select. The pawns, (that is, geese or chickens) may also be entered on cor- 
responding points in the lower portion of the board. The fox may move 
forward or backward, to the right or left, or diagonally. The geese are per- 
mitted to go only forward and laterally, but cannot move backwards. The 
player ought not to leave his geese unprotected, or alone, as may be done 
with the men in the game of draughts [since in this game there is no exchang- 
ing of men ("polio" for "polio")]. Skill at this sport consists in pursu- 
ing the fox, and in so shutting him in that he cannot move. The fox captures 
all the undefended or solitary geese and, in his movements, seeks to impede 
them from passing into the court-yard (the uppermost square) amid 
their fellows, so that he can take them more easily. Practice counts for 
much in this game, as it is only by practice that the player can learn to 
imprison the fox. The geese move first. To-day, however, the game is 
generally played with 17 geese, the four which are added to the original 13 
being placed at the points 14, 20, 21, 27. The fox is allowed to capture two 
or more of the geese if, as at draughts, unoccupied points exist behind each 
of them, and wins the game, either when ho has taken captive all the geese, 
or when he has passed over the points indicated by the numbers I, 2 and 3; 

** Omitting ft paragraph eontaining the Lydian story (reported In the French eitation^ 
on a page immediately following) the text of the Italian " Come poMO divertlrmi ? '* (Milan 
1901, pp. 281-833) is as follows: "II mulinello quintuplo 6 dato da cinque mulinelll teui- 
pllei disposti a forma di croce, come nella flgura 107. Questa dlsposMone di la belleua dl 
83 caselle, salle quail si giuoca una partita assai curiosa addimandata della Tolpe e de^polU. 
Un Tecehio Ilbro francese mi serve dl guida fedele per deserivere questo passatempo. '81 
glaooa con un dama (volpe) e con 13 pedine (polli) che si dispongono sn 18 caselle della t*- 
▼ola. I polli si dispongono da una parte (in alto o In basso) e la volpe a placere In una 
easella della parte opposta che ne comprende SO Tuote. La Tolpe pu6 mnoTersl InnansI o 
indletro, a destra o a sinistra, o diagonalmente. I polli non possono andare che In aTantl • 
lateralmente, ma non possono, percid, tornare indfetro. II giuocatore non deve laaeiare I poUl 
scopertl o soli, come si pratlca per le pedine nel gioco di dama. L*abilit4 di quetto ginoeo 
consist* neir inseguire la Tolpe e nel chiuderla dl tal maniera, che non potsa pl<l mooTenl. 
La Tolpe mangia tntti 1 polli che sono sooperti o soil e questl devono impedirle dl pMtara 
nel eortile, in meiso a loro, perchd pid facilmente potrebbe mang Ian*. L* eeerelalo Mnte 
molto In questo ginoeo, e perci6 6 solo con resercisio che ti pu6 faoilm«nt« rltaeir* a Car 
priglonlera la Tolpe.* I poll! muovono per i primi. Oggi, per6, si giuoca con 17 polli, • i 4 Tenotl 
in soccorso del 18 Teeebi, si collocano nelle caselle 14, SO, SI , S7. La ToIpe pub manglare due • 
pih polli se, come nella dama, trora caselle vuote dietro a eiasenno di esal, ed ba Tinto la par* 
tita o qnando ha divorato tutti i polli, o quando ^ arrivata sulle catella tag aato eol mumarl 1, 
S e 8, e la perde qaando si lasda ohludere In maniara che non poua pid andare innaaai, tor- 
nare Indletro, o fuggire diaconalmente.** 



STRAY NOTES 149 



and loses it when be has allowed himself to be surrounded in such a manner 
that he can no longer go forward, retam backward or flee diagonally.'* So 
(hr the Italian anthor. His assertion that the number of the pawns or goese 
was formerly 13 possesses some historical value, if it be true. The reader 
will notice the different positions, in the Italian and the English games, of 
the foor additional pieces ; instead of the points 14, 20, 21, 27, they occupy, 
on the Anglo-American board, 14, 15, 19, 20. 

This modem Italian author, as the reader will soon be able to notice, is 
simply a compiler from French sources, not haying apparently made any 
effort to stndy either the methods of playing the game or the records of its 
story in his own country. As in the case of other similar diversions both the 
practice and the history, as well as the name of the game, probably differ In 
the various Italian provinces. But only laborious inquiry can determine how 
greatly. 

As we have already seen, there have been published during recent years, 
in France, various books on the games of social life, mostly compiled, unfor* 
tunatdy, by men of little learning, some of i^hom have allowed their imagi- 
nations to play with great freedom whenever they were unable to bring any 
actual knowledge to bear upon the subject they chanced to be treating. The 
result is that they have thrown a good deal of darkness upon several of these 
household diversions. Their evil influence has not only been felt in Franco, 
but, through translators and compilers, in various other countries. The 
'^Grande Encyclop^ie des Jeux** ofMoulidars, to which we have more than 
once referred in preceding pages, cites a XVllth century publication of a sim- 
ilar character, finding therein a feibulous story of the origin of the game, and 
then proceeds to explain its mode of play. He styles it the m&relle quintuple 
since its board is made up of five ordinary throe-men-morris boards, combined, 
as we have seen, in the shape of a cross. It will be noticed that ho employs 
the orthography marelle. Wo insert here the whole original text (p. 101) 
relating to fox-and-geese : "On obtient cette marelle par la Juxtaposition do 
cinq marelles simples, comme sur notre fig. [I I J. Cette transformation de la ma- 
relle simple pent aussi Mro obtenue en se servant d*un solitaire anglais, so- 
litaire fran^ais diminud de quatre cases. On a ainsi un Jeu do 33 cases, qui 
sort h une partie singuli^re nomm^o * lo Renard et les poulos,' inventdo par 
los Lydiens, sMl faut en croire la *Maison des Joux acaddmiques* (Paris 1668), 
k laquelle nous empruntons la citation suivante : 'Los Lydiens, pnuplo d*Asle, 
entre plusieurs Jeux quMls invont^rent, donn6ront Torlgine et Pusage h celnl 
du renard, non tant pour le d^lr qu*lls enssent de lo Jouer, cpie pour se ftigon- 
ner aux ruses et se garder des surprises quo Cyrus, lour ennemi capital, lour 
dressait tous les Jours, lequol les appellalt ponies, k cause qu*lls almalont los 
d^lices et le repos; et Icenx T^ydlons lo noinmalont Renard, k cattso /ptMl Ain\i 
sans cesse anx aguets, ni qu*ll rrherchaU Incossainrrfont dos nnnnmm pour los 
surprendre. Co Jmi est \nn^n\mi% ot r^r^tlf, fiutllo k prallqttor. On lo Joiio 
avec des dames ou dos Jet^ms, k faiit^ d*avolr dos p/rtttos do ff/d« o( d*lvolr# 
en nomhro do trolr^, p'lsAos stir trolxo rftntdim htt ospa^os ihtui la Is Mo tmi 
compost. 1^^ pofilos mmi on I* partto d'ofi Ms «( |# rofiard oni ofi Is imrlitt 
d*en haut, qui /^/nslslin on vtri((t rttm^Um ifu tmyn^tm^ #1 ir//MO \f\$t**if, on VHnu 
d'icelles le r^ftiMfti k tt\mfM.Umt <|wl i^mti m^th^p «H 4##o#>«^/|ro, sMor *« voNlf 
aa haiYt et Kaa, k 4roH #i Irairofs, I/Mi p*tt»\m hh ymttrnf^ tn^tHUtp t^ntt flu ^^44 
eo bant et rm dMy#f»i f ^ mm H^ ptt, M ^*MmiP m 4^ii i§Hm^ Urn imniim 4k 



150 CHESS IN ICELAND 



couvertes, ou seules, non plus qu*au jeu de dames. La finesse de ce jea est 
de bien poursuivre le renard, et Tenfermer en telle sorte qu'il ne puisse aller 
de^ ni del^. Et est k noter que le renard prend toutes les poules qui son! 
seules et ddcouvertcs; enfln, il se faut donner garde de laisser venir le re- 
nard dans la partie d'en bas parmi les poules, pour autant qu^il les pourrait 
plus i^ilement prendre. L^exercice pent beaucoup en ce jeu, et k force do 
jouer, on s'y rend bion maitre. Les bons joueurs d^marent les poules 
premier que le renard. Celui qui a les poules ne doit permettre, s'il peut, 
qu*on d^mare le renard le premier, car cela ne lui est avantageux. 

"Telle est la rfegle de Tancien jeu, tel qu'on lo jouait au XVII* sifecle; on 
pla^ait les poules sur les cases 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 et 33 du 
solitaire anglais, et le renard, nMmporte sur quelle autre case. Les poules 
jouaient les premieres ; el les progressaient en avant, sant pouvoir reculer, 
ou horizontalement, k droit et k gauche. Le renard allait dans tous les sens, 
en avant, en arri^re, horizontalement et meme diagonalement. Dte quMl trou- 
vait imm^diatement devant, derri^re lui ou k c6t^ de lui, une poale isol^ de 
Tautre c6t6 de laquelle se trouvait une case vide, il sautait dans cette case, 
pardessus la poule, qui ^tait croqu^e, c'est>^-dire enlev^e du jeu. II pouvait 
prendre diagonalement, par exemple de la case 5 ^ la case 19. Tant de pr^ 
rogatives lui assuraient Timpunitd et il pouvait focilement atteindre Tune 
des trois cases 31, 32 ou 33, ou il avait gagn^ ; quelquefois il pr^fiSrait cro- 
quer une k une les pauvres volatiles, qui ne rdussissaient presque jamais k 
romporter la victoire en Tenfermant de mani^re k le mettre dans Timpossi- 
bilitd de bouger. 

'^Cette regie, ou tous les avantages ^taient en favour du renard, a ^t^ mo- 
difl^e. On a fortifld les poules, en portant leur nombre k 17, les quatre autres 
se plaint en 7, 13, 14 et 20. II leur devient ainsi beaucoup plus facile de se 
prot^ger. Quelquefois meme on convient que le renard ne pourra ni prendre 
ni marcher en diagonale ; mais alors on Taffaiblit au point qu*il ne lui reste 
gu^re d^espoir de gagner. La meilleure mani^re de jouer cette partie est de 
prendre une tablette de solitaire fran^ais dont on annule quatre cases, comma 
nous le disons en parlant du solitaire anglais; on se sort de 17 flches ou 17 bou- 
les ordinaires ; pour le renard, on prend une flche ou une boule d^uae autre 
couleur, par exemple une flche tremp^e dans Tencre. Le renard se place sur 
la case du millieu et les poules jouent les premieres. II est juste que le renard 
puisse marcher mais non prendre en diagonale. Quand le renard a ndgligd 
de croquer une poule en prise on le dit bless^, et Tadversaire igoute k son 
Jeu une nouvelle flche, qu'il place en arri^re des autres, sur la meme ligne 
horizontale que la derni^re de ses poules ; dans Timpossibilit^ d*agir ainsi, 
il attend pour prendre une nouvelle poule qu'il y ait une place vacante sur 
la derni^re ligne horizontale occup^e par ses flches. On peut convenir que le 
renard aura le droit de prendre deux ou plusieurs poules k la fois quand deux 
ou plusieurs flches ont un intervalle entre elles, comme cela se pratique aux 
dames ; mais il est prdfSrable de s'en tenir k une poule k la fois. Le renard 
a gagnd quand il a croqud toutes les poules ou quand il est parvenu sur la 
derni^re ligne de leur camp (cases 30, 31, 32 et 33), il a perdu sMl se laisse 
envelopper au point de ne pouvoir plus jouer en avant, en arri^re ou en diago- 
nale. Ainsi rdglde, la partie n'est pas sans intdret.'* In comparing all this with 
the summarized version which we have given of the Italian compiler*s work, 
we flnd that the latter has omitted one or two features of what the French 



STRAY NOTES 151 



writer tells us is the modern mode of play. Whether he has done this be- 
cause the Italian method differs from the French or not, it is impossible to 
say. These features are the placing of the fox at the middle of the board, 
and the law that he is privileged to move, but cannot capture diagonally. 

What is here and elsewhere denominated the "English solitaire" board, 
consists of points arranged like those of the fox-and-geese board, but not 
joined together by lines, so that the cross form of the group is not so evident. 
The French solitaire, a similar game, destroys all resemblance to the fox-and- 
geese board by adding four more points, two to the second line of the upper 
section of the cross and two to the next to the lower line of the lower section. 
The French also have the Spanish asalto, called by them Vassaut, played on 
the fox-and-geese board, on the old game of which, though differing consid- 
erably, it is apparently based. In the upper section of the cross, or fortress, 
are placed at will, two men, corresponding to the fox ; while the other sections 
of the board are occupied by 24 men of another colour. The 24 besiegers must 
always advance either vertically, or obliquely, capturing their adversaries, 
however, as does the fox in the original game. The game ends either when 
the besiegers have made themselves masters of the nine points of the fortress, 
or have captured the besieged, or when the latter have taken all the besiegers. 

As to England and America, we know of no other title given to this game, 
than the usual one. The oldest literary mention of it is in a play entitled 
'*A fine Companion" (1633) by Shackley Marmion, a minor play wright of the 
court of Charles I, well known as an imitator of Ben Jonson. It was acted, 
wo are told, before King Charles and Queen Henrietta Maria. It contains the 

passage (II, v) '^Let him sit in the shop and play at fox-and-geese with 

the foremen." In the middle of the following century we find a second writer 
of somewhat greater note — in his day at least— alluding to the game in his 
only romance. This is the Irishman, Henry Brookes a friend of Pope, who, 
in his "Fool of Quality" (1766-68), makes one of his characters ask (I., p. 367): 
"Can you play at no kind of game, Master Harry!" to which the reply is, 
"A little at fox-and-geese, madam," the inference being, of course, that he 
who knows no other game than one so simple and so rustic must indeed be 
a fool. The literary reader will remember that Charles Kingsloy was so great 
an admirer of this eighteenth century novel that he edited a reprint of it. 
Fox-and-geese is, in fact, one of those games of which there are but few ap- 
pearances in general literature ; indeed, the game was even regarded as too 
familiar a sport to be treated in such compilations as the " Compleat Game- 
ster" of earlier days, or the "Hoyle" of later times, and as certainly too 
rustic to be introduced into the higher fields of literature. In the farm- 
houses of America is often to be found a fox-and-geese board of wood, 
made with holes into which pegs are inserted, the peg denoting the fox 
being always a little higher than the others. In England the fox-and-geese 
scheme is, sometimes at least, drawn on a round piece of board, with cir- 
cular depressions at the intersections of the lines to receive the marbles with 
which the game is played, the fox being usually represented by a blue marble 
and the geese by gray ones. 

Strutt, in his already cited "Sports and pastimes" (1833, pages 318-319), 
has the following account of the game: — "This is a game somewhat resem- 
bling that of mdrelles in the manner in which the pieces are moved ; but in 
other respects, as well as in the fqrm of the table, it differs materially; the 




Tig IS 



IW CRBSS m ICELAND 

iaUraections and angles are more numeroua, and tbe polDts, of coarae, In- 
craaMd, which adds to tlie number of moves To play this game ther« are 
needed seventeen piecef<, called geese which are placed as we see them upon 
_ the engraving {flg. li], with the fox In 

~ C^^O-^ I the middle, distinguiBhed, either by his 

' ' eize or difference of colour, as here, for 

iDBtance, ho is black. The business of 
the game la to shut the fox up, bo that 
he cannot move All the pieces have 
the power to move from one spot to an- 
otlier, in the direction of the right lines, 
but cannot pass over two spots at od« 
time It IB to be observed that this board 
IS sometimes made with holes bored 
through It, where the dots are, and pegs 
equal to the number of geese put into 
them, and the fox is distinguished by 
being larffcr and taller than the rest. The geose are not permitted to take 
the (ox, if he staudB close to them, but the fox may take the geese, in like 
case, if tlio spot behind tliembe unoccupied, or not guarded by another goose; 
and if all be taken, or the number so reduced that the fox cannot be blocked, 
the game is won. Tlie great deficiency of this game is, that the fox must 
inevitably be blocked if the game bo played by a skilful hand; for which 
reason, 1 am told, of late some playors havo added another fox ; but thta I 
have not seen." The writer, in his last sentence, is possibly referring to 
the Frencli game of assaul which we have just mentioned. 

The American mode of play, which differs little or not at all from that 
prevalent in England, is thus concisely described in the"Century" dictionary 
{sub voce "fox"|: "Fos-and-goeBe, a game placed on a cross-shaped board 
or on a chess-board with pins or checkers [draught-men], one of whichisthe 
fox, the rest the geese. The geese move forward one square at a time, and 
win if they can surround the fox or drive him into a corner. The fox CMi 
move forward or backward, captures the geese as men arc taken in checkers, 
and wins if he capture all the geese." 

In Oermany the customary name for fox-and-geese Is, as we have noted, 
fuchs und hUhner {or fUelis-und hshnerspiel) ; it is said to be styled in South 
Germany, or in portions of that region, der fuehs im hUhnerhof ("the fox in 
the chicken yard"). But, according to a recent book on games (A. Von HahD, 
"Buch iler spiele," 3d. ed., Leipsic, 1900, pp. 252-3), it is likewise called, as 
in England, der fuchs uttd die gdnse ("fox and geese"). In this late work 
the author doBcribes, first, the modern asaUo, for which his name is 
das festungs' und belagerutigsspiet, he having no idea, evidently, that it is the 
development of another game, and begins his account with a description of 
the board. This he follows with a short paragraph on fox-and-geese, the 
text of which we quote in full : "Ahnlich ist dae spiel: 'der fuchs und die 
gansc,' welches auf einom gleiclien brett, jedoch ohne feslungaplalie, gespielt 
wird. £ine figur, der fuchs, stcht aul'dcm miltelfeld und hat dieselben rechte 
wie die festungssoidaten. Er darf vorwarts und riickwSrts marschieren, 
jedesmal von einem punkt zum niichBten, und darf elne gans nohmen, wenn 
das in gerader linie hinter Ihr l>eflndliclie fold frei ist. Die siabiehn gtlnse 



STRA Y NOTES 153 



sind auf der einen halfte aufgestellt, diirfen nicht schlagen; sie haben 
gewonnen, wann es ihnen gelingt, den fuchs so einzuschl lessen dass er nicht 
mehr Ziehen kann. Links und rechts neben dem fuchs ist ein leerer platz. 
Der fuchs gewinnt, wenn er letzteren umgeht und jene wegschl&gt. ** 
This attempted notice of the original game displays no very accurate 
knowledge of the matter, and is carelessly written. It is enough, however, 
to show that the mode of play corresponds with that practiced in other 
lands. It is still a common diversion in German rural districts. ^ 

The game is yet well known and practiced on the Scandinavian mainland, 
but exact information about it, in those countries, is difficult to procure. The 
printed notices of it are unsatisfactory and not infrequently erroneous. The 
Swedish '' Hand-bibliothek ft)r sallskapsnojen, '' heretofore cited, begins 
(II., p. 645) with the asalto^ styled beldgringsspel, or sometimes, as the 
writer states, fdstningsspel ('* fortress-game''). At the end of the description 
we lire told that he who plays the defenders in one game, generally directs the 
besiegers in the next. This is followed by fox-and-gecse, to which the name 
rdfspel ("fox-game'') is assigned (pp. 647-8). It is preceded by a diagram of 
the board unlike any other that wo have seen. Instead of having 20 squares 
with 33 points on the angles, as in the usual cross-shaped board, it has 24 
squares with 37 points. The four additional squares are inserted in the 
angles made by the outer lines of the two sections of the cross, namely 
those formed (see flg. II) by the figures 4, 9, 8; 6, II, 12; 22,23, 28, and 30, 
25, 26. How mnch this novel board is used in Sweden and how much the 
older one, it is impossible to say. We are told that this scheme is 
composed of 26 squares, the writer's own diagram, however, showing, as we 
have stated, that there are only 24. He gives the number of the sheep (far) 
as 22, an addition of 5 to the game as we practice it in England and America. 
The "sheep" occupy the 22 points on the central and all other lines above 
it; the fox is placod on any point below, at the will of its player'. The 
mode of play and capture is as generally described. We are informed that 
the object of the fox is to make his way to the rear of tlie flock of sheep, 
that of the sheep is to shut in the fox. As in the heUJgringsspel the opposing 
players take the sides of the fox and sheep alternately. It is not impossible 
that this form of the game may have superseded the older and usual one in 

^ As a matter of interest, we translate the compiler's aecount of the asal/o, or as he 
ealla It "the game of fortress and siege*' (p. 262) : ''This game is played on a board, having 
the form of a cross and thirty three points united bylines. Nino cf these points represent the 
fortress, which is defended by two soldiers. These two men at tbo beginning of the game 
may be placed, at will, on any two points appertaining to the fortress. The 24 places outside 
of the fortress are occupied by the soldiers of the besieging party. The taslc of these latter 
Is to occupy all the nine points of the fortress, and for this purpose to drive out, or entice 
from it, the garrison of two men. The beitiegers inunt advance on the lines toward the 
fortress, bringing a man, at every move, nearer to the sought for goal. Kvcry besieger can 
be captured by the defendant which stands in froiit of Lim, whenever he is not protected by 
a man in the rear. From this it follows that the men must advance massed together as far 
ae possible. If one of the defenders neglect* to capture, then ho can be ** blown," that is to 
tay, captured. Under certain eirenmstances the defendants are allowed to capture one or 
two men in order to draw them farther and farther oat of the fortrets. The defenders also 
move one step at a time, but can' Lop over as many of their opponents as are to be found 
with a vacant, or undefended point in their rear. '>\'h«n there are no longer enough besiegers 
to fill the nine points of the fortress then the defendants have won. If, on the other band, 
the soldiers are either penned up inside their fortress, or have been expellod In such a way 
that they cannot return to It, the game has bc«u gsinod by tbo besltftrf." 



1 54 CHESS IN ICE LA ND 



8omo, if not all of the provinces of Sweden, for wo do not find, in any work 
on games, an account of the ordinary board, until we reach the ** Illustrerad 
spelbok'* of "Tom Wilson'' (see p. 136 and note 131), and so much of that 
work, as previously hinted, is translated from foreign productions, that we 
can hardly trust it as a Swedish authority. **> 

Fox-and-geese has certainly long been practiced in Iceland, but just how 
long it is difficult to say. It is called in that island refskdk (fox-chess); from 
the signification of this name we may infer that the game reached the country 
after the introduction of chess. The theory has been mooted that it has an 
older title {hnottafl or hnetiaft)^ and that under this term it is mentioned in 
the sagas ; but we shall refer to this supposition in detail hereafter. At 
the present time, special boards for refskdk are rarely or never found. It is 
oftenest played on a diagram drawn with chalk on a board, or marked on 
paper, or on a slate. In the work "islenzkar gAtur," so often cited, the 
game is described as follows (pp. 298-300): '*As in so many other sports 
refskdk is played by two persons; one of them has a 'fox' (<oa), and the 
other 13 * lambs' {lomh) [the latter being, of course, the English *geese']. 
Ordinarily the * lambs' are placed at the points indicated (fig. 11) as 1 to 13 

^ The Swedish text, under the hcAdiug <'Bel&griDgcapeIet" (p. 645) is <'Tiil detu spel, 
som p4 tyska kAlUs : daa belagtrungs-fpiely p& franaka: U jeu d'astatU, och bftr i Sverige 
ftfven IlaUa* : /dstning$»pel, erfordras ett brftde eller kn tafla af det utseeude inotstaendo figur 
utvliar och dertill iiue tftrtkllt utinftrkta pjeser elltr suldater, som vld »peltrt« burjaa kafva 
•iua platser & fftatuiogeD, samt andra 24 soldatcr, som placeraa i. hvar siu af rundlarne utom 
filstoiDgeu, och hvilkas bemfidande hQt vara att iutaga f&stuiugen. Linierna utvisa, bara 
soldaturua m&ste framrycka, uemllgen de angrlpande eiidastp& derfida [line*]^ ett steghvarjv 
g&ug, Ulan att ga tiUbaka. De aom fSrsvara f&«tningeu f& v&l ej heller gd mer &n ett steg i 
sender, men kunua g& p& bade avarta och rSda linier fram och tiUbaka, orh kuuua och mista 
aid likasom i seback [V] och borttagahvar och en bredvid at&eude pjes, d& u&sta rum ftr ledigt, 
samt iutages. Detta g&ller ftSr b& mftnga pjeser, som dertill gifva tillf&Ile, a^som i dara. Pi 
detta s&tt s6ka fiJravararoe, att minitka de augripandea antal ; men bSra akynda aig till baka 
i f&staingen. De angrlpande kunna deremot icke nU, utau udate Jemt a6ka att h&lla sig 
tillhopa ocb bemdda sig att f4 fursvararne utsi^ngda fr&n fiUtningen. Sl&r icke en f&ravarare, 
da dertill fir tlllf&lle, figcr den spelare, som fGrcr de augripaude, att likasom i dam blata bort 
den, d. ▼. s. borttaga fursvararne utan rubbning i spelet. Hufvudgrunden fdr apt let fir att fi 
fOrsvararne ur fftstulngen, ICr att kunna intaga alia 9 platserna, hvilket fir enda TilkoretfOr 
vunnat apel. Kan det ej ske, vinner den, som anf5rer fdravararne. Den, som en gikngfdrt 
fdrsvararne, fOrer merendels niista gdng angriparne.** The description of "rfifspelet** rvada 
thus: " Hftrtill nyttjaa eu figur, s^dau som den motstdende, med 26 [84] qvadrater, hvilka i 
bvarje h5rn bar ett hdl, bvari passa s& vfil den pJes, som f5restfiller rfifveu, som de, bviika 
ftirest&lla fftreu, bvilkas autal fir 82. En spi-lare f5rer den fdrra, och en annan de a«duare. 
Kan den forra kouma bakom fdreu, fir spelet vuuuet, likaefi fi andra sidau, om de sednare 
kunna inuestfinga rfifveu. F&reu uppstfilla sig i allab&l pfi alia linier fr&n och med a, [central 
line] till och med b, [uppermost line] och rfifveu ffir taga sin plats hvar houom bfi^t synea. 
Fareu ga ett steg bvarjo gang, a& vfil luugs&t qvadrateruaa sidor, aom deraa korsliuier, men 
de fd icke aid, hvaremot rilfveu, som har aamwa gang, fdr, lika«om i daui, sld hvart ocb ett 
fdr, aom har tomt rum bakom sig, ocb flera pa eu gaug, om tillffille dertill erbjudts. Karen 
fa endaat gd framfit och p& sidorua, men rfifveu f&r gd och sld fram och tiUbaka. Kfifveu b{}r 
bemdda sig att borttaga sd mjkuga tar som mojiigt, f6r att bana sig vfig bakom fdr«kocken« 
Fdren filer bdra soka bdlla sig tillhopa, att rfifveu icke kan fa tillffille att borttaga u&got, 
bvarigenom de ovilkorligeu skola instliuga rfifveu. Man brukar mer&ndels, att den soui ena 
g&ngeu fort rfifveu, andra gutf^eu furcr t&ren.*' The ezpressiou de rOda ("the rtd") and 
svarla och rOda liniers (" black and red lines**) refer, doubtless to a diagram printed (in 
other impressious of the work) iu two colors. Here the diagram is wholly in black. Prob* 
ably it has been, in other instances, so printed that the lines in the upper section of the 
cross (the ''fortress") are black and (bo remaiuiug Hues red. Although the board diflfera 
from the genuine fox-and-geese in having the four additional squares, the manner of play, 
it will be seen, is exactly as in the Bnglish game. 



STRA Y NOTES 155 



— the other or opposing man— the 'fox'— at the central point, 17. It is the 
aim or object of the former to shut the * fox ' in, that is, to arrange the 
'lambs* in such a manner that the opponent can no longer move, while the 
latter seeks to defend himself and capture as many of the 'lambs* as possible. 
The player of the ' lambs * endeavours to guard his pieces, of course, as the 
more men he retains the easier is it to enclose the 'fox.* A capture takes 
place thus: If the 'fox * stand close to any " lamb,* that is, if the 'lamb* 
stand on the point next to the 'fox,* and there is no piece on the point 
behind it in a direct line, the fox is permitted to jump ove( his opponent 
to the vacant spot. The 'lamb* is then removed. If the 'fox* stand, for 
example, on 11 and the 'lamb* on 5 and there is no piece on 1, then the 
'fox* jumps over the point 5 to 1 and thus captures the Mamb.* In other 
respects the manner of the moves can be readily seen. The 'lambs* follow 
the lines and the 'fox* chases after them. Both may move to any part of 
the board on right lines ; both, too, go forward and backward (although 
some assert that the 'lambs* are allowed to march only in a forward 
direction). The 'fox* is in the greatest danger if it move into cither of 
the four extremities of the cross, as it is more easily surrounded in those 
regions, but it sometimes, when hotly pursued, finds it necessary to retreat 
to some one of these perilous points. When the 'fox* can no longer move, 
it is considered to be shut in, or as it is termed 'burned in,* but to effect 
this the 'lambs* must stand on the next two points in every direction in 
order to prevent the jumping and capture process. For instance, if the fox 
is on 31 then, in order that it be ' burned in *, ' lambs * must stand on 23, 28, 29, 
25, 32 and 33. It is much more easy to play the 'lambs* than to play the 'fox,* 
for he who guides the movements of the former, if he has had considerable 
practice, is sure to win. There are no counters or men special to refskdk. 
Beads or coffee-beans are used for the 'lambs,* and something larger, for 
example, a button or thimble, for the fox.** The author closes by saying : 
^^Refskdk is the most common board -game which I have met with. J6n 
Olafsson remarks that every human being knows it. In his time (1750) 
it was played as it is to-day, or, at least, the board used was the same. 
SigurOur OuCmundsson says that refskdk must be the same as hnottafl or 
hnettafl, which is supposed to have been practiced in ancient days, and 
J6n 6la/lsson likewise hints at the same thing.** ^*^ 

^* The origioal IceUndIo is m follows: " Tveir meDn tofla refskik, eins Off flest Oiinur 
tdfl. Annftr hefir t6u, en hinn he6r IS Ifiinb. Eg set tA horniS 1 snikl tA lambamftnniuttiu, o;; 
•kipar hann t>elm i reitioa 1-13. Hinn setur aptur t6una i miftreitinn, 17. Ptt er mark eg mid 
lambamannsioi aft bnela uSuna inni, skipa lOnabnnam sto, aft t6au setl ekkert koinist, en blou 
rejnir aptur til aft varna ))vi, og lietar t6u *iaa drepa sem flest lOmb. I^mbamaftarlnn rer )>au 
aptar eptir maetti, )>vi eptfr t>Ti sem bann heflr fleiri lOmb, eptir pvi veitir bonum bipgra aft 
brasla t6ana inul. Dr&pift far )>annig fram : Kt t6aD stendur i einbverju iambi, |>. e. ef Iamb 
at«ndur i reit |>eim, sem er niestur t6anni, en ekkcrt k |>eim, sem er annar reltar (rk bennl, i 
beina linn, )>& mk btln stOkkva yflr lambift, off jflr & aufta reitiuu. Hun drepar )>& lambift urn 
leift. l>aft er teklft i burt, og er tlr sfifunul. R( t6an stendar t. d. & 11 og lamb 4 5, en ekkert 
i 1, |>4 mi btkn stOkkva 4 1 off drepa lambift. 04nffDrinn er annars eftlilvffur. LCmbln fara 
l«iftar sinnar off t6an eltir t>aa. Bsfti mega fara 4 alia reiti i UHlno, eptir beinum linom, 
bafti aptar 4 bak og 4fram. Hettast er tdunni, «f bil^n fer dt i bornin, og forftast btln ))aft 
>Ti eina og beitan eld. Aptor neyftlst b4n stundam til )Hfss, ef ifimbln reka bart 4 eptir. 
Pegar t6an getar ekki komist neitt, er bikn br»ld efta breud inni, en til )>ess verfta I6mb 
aft staada 4 tTeimnr n«sta reitom vift hana, i allar 4ttir, t>Ti ef aft eins Tieri lamb 4 nK«u 
rait, >4 g»a i6an drepift ]iaft og slopplft sro. Kf t6an stendnr t. d. 4 81, )>4 er bdn )>Ti aft 
•las brtsld innl, aft l«mb sUndl 4 n, S8, St, S5, 8S of U. Miklo er aaftreldara aft rtra maft 



156 CHESS IN ICELAND 



It will thus be seen that the Icelandic refskdk is what has been called, 
in a previous page, the older form of fox-and-geese, using only 13 men 
instead of the 17 common at the present time in other countries. 6UfQr 
DaviOsson adds to his description an account taken from the Danish '^Spil- 
lebog for born*' (Copenhagen 1853, pp. 33-36) of asalto^ called, as we have 
said, in Danish beleuringsspil. He gives its method of play exactly as we 
have elsewhere portrayed it. 

Wo should not forget to note that OuQbrandur Vigfiisson, under the 
word hali (tail), defines halatafl as ^^a kind of game used synonymously with 
hneftafl^ "' to which he refers the reader. He furthermore says that the game 
was ** probably similar to the English 'fox and goose' [sic]." Then he 
cites from the Grettis saga (144 A) this sentence, which we quote with his 
comments: '•'hann tefldi hnet-iaf!, pat var start hala-tafl (having a fox with 
a big tail) hann grcip p<l upp iofluna ok setti halann a kinnbein Porhimi 
(probably of the brick representing the fox). *' The word "brick" signifies 
here ** piece *" or ** man. " The lexicographer then cites the report in regard 
to the archaeological museum at Rekjavik by SigurCur OuQmundsson (1868), 
and likewise refers, for the expression hali d hnefa-tdflu^ to the Vilmundar 
saga ViOutan (chapter 8). There is no description of the way in which this 
haUt-tafi (or '*tail game") was played; but we shall hear more about it In 
the next section. 

In looking over what wo have boen able to gather in regard to the his- 
tory of this simple game, and its practice in various lands, we may, perhaps, 
definitely conclude that it cannot be identical with the old saga game to 
which we have so frequently referred. Even if it were to be proved to be 
the same as that diversion which was known as Freystafl^ we could hardly 
assign it to the earliest period of the saga age. We shall have to look 
elsewhere for anything which can throw a gleam of light upon the history 
or character of hfietafl or hnefatafl *^-. 

IGmbin en t6uiia, og of tk cr gc'iSur tallma^ur, lem hefir )>an, I>i k bann ▼inninginn Titaa. 
Rkkl era neinir sArstakir taflmenn i refsk&k. Oler etn kalTibaunIr era hangar fjrrlr 15mb, ^a 
eltthvad Btierra, t. d. linappur e9a fingurbjurg fyrir t6a. Kefiikik er ftlgelngasU Ufl t>ftr Mm 
eg pekkt til. J6ii Olafuson Regir lika, a^ hvert xniinDsbAru kuuui bana. Hdn beflr verA elM 
k baii8 dogum og biio er nil, eSa a<5 minttft kosU er refak&karmynd »ik, tern bann beflr dregl) 
upp, aWeg eint og 8U sem bdr er prentu^. Sigar^ar m&lari seglr, alb refskik mnni vera saaa 
sem hnotta/l c<5a hnettofi ))a9, sem ti&ka<M8t i gamla daga, og drepar J6n Olafaton |>ecar i 
|>a9. ** Bee Olafur Davi^saonU "Skcmtanlr*' (tSfl, pp. 898-9). 

*^ The suggeitlon that tbe early Icelandic hfffaiafl and hnotta/l were two different 
garoef, and that one of tbem Is represented by the existing fox-and-geese, first oeoara In an 
article publlsbed by tbe Ck>penbagen royal society of northern antiquaries in its " Annaler 
for nordisk oldkyudighed*' (Copenhagen 1838-9, pp. 188-158, the article having a large 
folding plate). lU title is <'0m Skakspil i det gamle norden i auledning af et Tlgtlft Aiad 
paa Ilebrlderne,** and it is suggested by Sir Frederick Madden*s well-known essay in tbe 
English *' Archaeologia** of 1832, "Historical remarks on tbe ancient chess-men discovered In 
tbe Isle of Lewis,** In which Sir Frederick takes tbe ground that the obess-men in queetloB 
were fabricated in Iceland — a theory which enables him to cite many of the allusions to chMi 
in tbe ancient Icelandic writings. His essay was separately reprinted with the same date, and 
subsequently reproduced in tbe first volume of tbe " Cheis-player*s chronicle " (London, 1841). 
Tbe name of tbe author of tbe Danish article Is not given, but It Is said to ba *' red oldsag- 
eommitteen " — tbe society's committee on antiquities, but in none of the accessible pabllea- 
tions of the society of northern antiquaries, issued in tbe years between 1830 and 1845, do 
we find tbe names of tbe members of this committee. Two men who made part of It were 
pretty surely tbe arcb»ologlsU, J. J. A. Worsaae and 0. J. Thomson. The cbaraeter of tlie 
article may be judged from the fact that its compiler is inollaed to tee some eonnection beliri 



srairxorEs t*s7 



What was " Tobies." »« — It U drat neoeftnarj w virmi^utr what ?h#5 rn*^ 
dissral game of tables realiy wm. En^^ish im^^n. ^p^ia.ly f.h<5 c/,fr.j,il<fef» 
of lexicons, arc all agreed that it waa th.* ii-r^rson noTr A,r..'iwn .n Kn^fUnn Am 
backgammon^ in France- and in certain other lanit*. an 'rirfrcr, trtrktrftrkf. 
sometimes written tictjc iti^^tickr. in. O^rr^n/ m ;,«T. 'i UhfVr/xi A.ie 
fabolof, in Spain as tahlas r^a'^:.*. in I'jily u */ir.rM r^i^.. In A f »>*»': l^fi'U, 
as we haye stated (p. 92>. or at any nw ;n Sjypt. har.ici'Af*..'*.^n i». <»yl/T*i 
Wb et iaula (the '-game of ublai" or :h* •• --ar,.!* -jw.^,*' f. wUir,u Ui\':, tf 
we coald prove that it ha.1 a "wrtain aj*. -r-.i.-l vw.-i v. r.jiA/t ^'if*: »u i'J^/« 
tiflcation witli the old -ubles". *' fic*. tt* :,»».• tr.at .n ♦r»^ r.*rAf >U»f, KoMi 
the name and the game, a* now piAj*;. %•* ^.''.'r.',a."*\'i«:i7 t:jA*ifu iu»[t*,r 
tations (within the last two or thr«se vir •.'.*-• r-'.r.. .'u. / -i;kA *'* //.»««y 
other terms and castom^ in th* Lew.:.'.^ .^r..i*. ;'**r**f,^* »M/f *j/;,'rJiAiu/f,a! 
favoid reaie, (royal table) in Italy ^r..l '/u,i/ij y^ti^.^ ♦',/*. um'^^ m '\\,'A.iU 
as indicating a court irame — niay i r*<:r7* v^r.-.^ ■»:./.'.•. *< ♦>-,«'. '/*//riy i/» ih#: 
identity of the oM an-1 the n^w ?«-..*«. '^/'**j«. > '.r Y.w^.ktA u»/; M>:riiwi 
cation by the leiicograph^tr*. of 'rA/.A7A.r..vy,fi *'.'. ♦-»*,!':«; u r»ot '|ij»b: 
general; in fact, we recall v^rr f-^-o- - it tr. l ',•.•. »*A*>rf/^Mj« t// U«*i 4:ft<i«:t. 
coming from aathoritaciTe cont*r^r.*A. ■"-•vrf^. •..'/*/•. »>.^.f m\t:fi**i luity Uh 
explained by the tMct that tr.*7 uaa f/* y.''*r,*yT'i »:»'•. "/f»»»rnjiiy ol u 
bles-backgammon : nor. in r^xr-l \; •;.,*, v.^r*/ *. 'Jv^ ifi7«:iiM(/4tt//fi iitif# 
the precise significationii o? tl'.ft 7*.-.'*.* '..x':,t^ ^^-vt//*'-'! 'i(#mi i»i<* t/«ii»i: 
help as much. The En:.':>f* i^Lv^.o^^.**.^ tf'^ftf, •.!•, fca i^-'i*!. i/* Ji. MMwrtl 
supply of absord etycu'^.v:?!*^. •.:./? or../ ;,',">*.>,/', ',/»/? ^r i»i/,»^; f:ii^(/i:nii:i| 
being baek-^ gammon — h<^/:k \'.\,y,>M.\ V/ *•.»/: .'f/^/, Im; '^i,iuv. J/'M-K 'h 

<t!itt as the BAme of a faa« »«': u^ ^*r««* tdtkA»t,m '•*« :r '/»)#. >kA |,#<«. ki ,>«|..i*.f.;. ll.ai 
Im dselarcs ''borae '* M ut* i^^A %m v4 fc*«. ti *«./wa V.» •*,*. 0u.4i.>, ««.4 ti.«i ii'«< t/.ttg^uu 
ftppelUtioa for tk< b-:«b«;^ i« ••f'K.. u»t Vi«>#; }« »-*^*;/ •»,4i, '^M*aL uv«if*A#«i #♦•»<.». »«#» »!.«. 
I*^»f" (P- 1*^- *«4 tt»t -ii^ ■«-. /it vibi .« »fc. «k^ ,A«t «,*,.*• ,1, ^/( .,. ii.fc ni,tlUflAhf'>l,in 

— all of wfaiek iUtaaiA«u '.^x <i%'y t^', •/, K««it «/.*!/, it»t^tm»ttt.g 'h^k h.ui hhh <*«• I"* 
ftai-gMM (f>1^') i« »* ?*..'.»• • H^',*t^p M ft..t*0 i,t».i.*0\j rt.*. ^.m.'. ♦.» '««mM' «# •» MiiiMi. 
plajsd with plttM if » fi.M 44 ?•**» • A.**J • .*•* «,# *«,« • f;Hh4 hit \f.m* , ••«- »»*»mi».»J, 
tk« chief pice« : (*ter 'fci' m :i>. m.:/ •,*«*< «,f j,#» / i.. i**\mt^n. thuh m«|,i«**., f>fi »•.. hmmh 
!■ BOW ityltd rt/tkMk, 7ft* /«x«.. ..-.j; ;/i*^*» /«},f««4#t «f.4*p, «,^ tmu-h-^ „i,n •»». |.»iifM»i| 
by tiM fax. TfcU ftl«4 '#-!#!^f« ;* :k»t ?•/*•/ '.» );aM«4 •«tifc »m*i, ii,.w | N|,i«M.)faM n-»iiiMtM'*-M 
■■■•• *h«Bi«elv««, b-.t t^r« tM &,* ^-brf.** ri,« i(A4«-*, «• )*f ||,«. <i<.«n*«**m' ifUtuf-iilJ, Hi» 

tbc gamu th«r«ia m^h'.'.:**^, r,»y -^ #i*, .,4 J^'*"/ *^*tmU,l/ i.«,« ii, »„^ Nt.|,«i, !•.• .im'I 
gMM. Th« aolb^r eUM« i. • «.*•.* »// }fc'^#«^',../ ... t$.»t i„ |,4.„„,,,j. |f ,. |»fci,».,«H| ft Icm 

(lb* dog, tb« hOVB.^, — 1.-. pf<r;. .(.«^t«(U/«, #*•*#,..,,,.,/ I|.k .,H /.,/«/ wIfUl, IH II. «. ■HIMI llMlKt. 

panoM the b*r««, L^-be^ Ua (^*fci*t. c*ifc« V/».«ii.*« (f«<w hmnltt, hun'l nff hutfi ^M»»h.t|.MMtU 
to tb« laflandie rt/tlMk *r »/#t »).*/« i« «^mm» nif*,*** . kli.it,t.*h in i»tm "l»j»«»»i »ii»Mih(» ' ••»»»- 
■• neh pkrtM. bbt Lm r»t», A«r'; /.4i/«i4»»/, *f^UfM«<i n. "^ j,,^^ ^, ^^^^^^ „„,, h„MMh.»-," 
•ad flTM a varfaat. ''ki%r«-^(4l." 7i,# «^/ff,^tUi %t*4Hi4Mt \h Mi* »««w«I IiUIkHinI ^mmhUm, 
MCk a« (p. Iv4) lb* 4^tbKfc tiat %um *!.*.»» n-.n^t, Mi*/ "|>ii««iMf Im nUl «Imi»»» " !••*»* 'tUMM 
eallad Prtja aft«r tU ht*4t^.htvUu u**^4mmit, ikni ii*« l#Uli«#|f /|f, I'ifr; "In IU |«ii»itii P^tnili, 
wa iMnk, bad tt« aat.'.* '/f 4yrr>fMy«i^ 4U*ffh*tmMtit*igi," mufi »u hh- i Uu mMInIm ».iimhiiii»Uh 
MT«ral fioda «f <t.c*«-M«^i. t* a* UunU, IH4A, l#««M«« lli«U»||« fMMlMn fiUlw, ItHH umhjf mfhimI 
eat U1a<tratioo« io tL* Uvt, s^m** f#<,w* m»^'Um •m^I «#<Ih.*« Iimm* vailMiM Mlkui MMmbu*. 

** Tb«r« U a •'*va« •://ffi«*«(l'/M i/*.fMr*<LN iliU ii«4,l|ifM iin4 a ifHtkiMMM MHt^llHii ("TaN," 
pp. ff-9S) of IbU divltt'/b ^f >k« |^fii««:>«l v<«Im»m«. «m uI«i«« M«»I «lr«.fi » ||i«| yit|y aaiafui 

raadar mtkj dlv^avftr mm« ««|/4tul'#i««, *fi/| |««iffai»|«« •mww ummIimiMkIIum* a« mhII- MuI an 
atteaipt baa b««a »«/!« U/ «*|»««ai4i, ti* m/im*. n^ntttu, iliu iNiidiifcVitl liUraiHm anil iibtlMlttny 
of **tabl«e'* fr«« lie gaa^ral bfaWry and iba a««4#Mui« ut ll« varying wallMMlf wf play. 



158 CHESS LY ICELA ND 



return of the men from one table to another, and gammon being the 
Middle-English gammen, gamen^ and early modern English gatnen=^ game 
(the final syllable -en having been dropped, in existing English, under the 
erroneous belief that it was a suffix). This is all doubtless correct as to the 
latter element of the word, but the best authorities confess that the first 
element is still an uncertain quantity. Trictrac, ticiac, with their different 
orthographies, are considered to be variants of an onomatopoetic theme, 
having its origin in the rattling sound of the dice. This theory, however, 
though so generally accepted, seems more than doubtful. It may be that 
the word tricktrack (trictrac) is merely an alliterative reduplication (having 
reference to the route taken by the men), signifying a forward and back 
movement after the manner of ** zig-zag; '* or it may be the application — 
a point we shall treat later — of an onomatopoetic word already existing 
(signifying any sharp, clattering sound). As to ticktack (tictac), it can be 
regarded as a variant, possibly with a remote reference to the Italian 
toccare (to touch), which occurs in the name of the variety of tables (back- 
gammon) known as toccategli (=" touch iti*')— a title, however, which has 
been apparently more prevalent abroad than in Italy. The German puff^** 
is generally supposed to be identical with our English "puff" in its ety- 
mology, but its raison d'etre as the title of a game, despite Grimm's expla- 
nation (" Wdrterbuch, '' stib voce) — if his remark can be considered an 
explanation — it is difficult to comprehend. But there may very well be quite 
a different etymology, connected with the Spanish bufa (see p. 88), which 
the editors of Grimm would naturally not know. Tavola reale and tablas 
rcales, in the two chief romance idioms of the South, imply simply that this 
game is the best or noblest of the varieties of ** tables. " There is the usual 
confusion, not only of names, but of genera. In the English-speaking world 
(at least in the American part of it), for instance, is practiced a sort of 
backgammon called " Russian,*' in which not only is the playing, or move- 
ments of the pieces in accordance with the casts of the dice, but the men 
are '* entered *' upon the board by the same niethod of chance, before the 
play proper begins — the former style of setting the men beforehand in their 
appointed (place or) places being now esteemed old-fashioned. In the history 
of a sport like this, we constantly see changes occurring, new fashions in 
the mode of conducting the game, newer varieties of old forms introduced. 
The sense and purport of technical terms are frequently altered in different 
localities and in different ages. Sometimes we find, for example, tricktrack^ 
as in Hans Sachs, described as a variety differing from backgammon proper. 

^** Trictrac !■ now the more usual name In most parts of Germany; but i^i^ !■ older. 
It Is to be found in Qerman letters even before tbe days of Hans Sachs (d. 1576), bat tlie 
Nuremberg poet enumerates some of the varieties of it played in his day, inelading among 
these, trictrcLCy which he styles, KIce some other authors of his time, dickadack. He malcea 
one of his characters say : 

Derglelch ich den bretsplel anhang 
Ich kan das kure und auch das lang^ 
Pv/y g*g*npufy und auch regal 
Dickedaek und die lurtteh sunial. 

Bat far earlier —in the 18th century In fact ~ in the writings bearing the name of th« 
*'Schulmeister of Esslingcn*' we are told that '*daK drsto spil Ist buf genannt.** If tbe date 
be eorreet this would be written about the time Alfonso was treating of the same game in 
Spain. In the eitation the word lurUeh is, doubtless, tbe Rnglith *' lurch.** 



STRA Y NOTES 15© 



We have had, too, in England a species of backgammon known as fayles^ 
defined in the dictionaries as ^' an old game, a kind of backgammon,'* or as 
'^ a complicated iund of backgammon, played both with men and pegs,** of^ 
which an account, written a century ago, has already been given (see p. 88, 
foot-note), in which we are told that the name of this variation of tables 
comes from the fact that by some particular throw of the dice, a player 
"was disabled from bearing off any of his men and therefore fayled in 
winning the game *' — which assertion, we fear, is to be looked at as only 
an etymological surmise. >^ We have already cited (p. 79) what seems to 
us almost, or quite the latest instances of the use of the word tables in En- 
glish literature, namely in 1716 and 1753, but these were apparently isolated 
cases; the term really ceased to be in common usage before 1650. The 
earliest appearance of ** backgammon,** which we can recall, was in the 
same century, in a book of great popularity in its day, and still one 
of the best collections of epistolary literature in English, the " Familiar 
Letters '* of the traveller and student, James Howell (1596-1666), quaintly 
entitled by the author " Epistohe Ho-Elianje, ** of which the first of 
many editions was issued in 1646, Howell writes it baggamon. So we 
may say — if further investigations do not contradict us — that as "ta- 
bles ** went out " backgammon ** came in, which is at least a slight 
argument for their identity. The technical term hack-game was in use 
at the time of the change, and doubtless before and after. The play- 
wright, Colley Gibber, as the reader has been told (p. 79), speaks of " a hack- 
game at tables, '* It is notable, too, that one section of a work published 
about that time, the " Compleat Gamester ** (1674), is divided into " games 
within the tables ** and those " without the tables. ** It is soon seen that the 
former term means games played on the inside of the ordinary table-boards, 
for they are all varieties of *' tables, '* or " backgammon. *' The names are: 
"Irish, hachgammon^ tables, quater, doubblets *' — a list of much historical 
interest both because it contains the two names, ''backgammon'* and "ta- 
bles'* of the same date, but in other respects — particularly looked at from 
an Icelandic point of view, as regards quater. It will be seen from all this 
that there are very good reasons for believing that, both in Great Brit- 
ain and on the continent of Europe, the modern backgammon, as a generic 
term for all games played on the trictrac-board, is the proper representative 
of the mediieval tables ; but it must not be forgotten that this name of it, as 
the appellation of its principal game or variety, belongs only to the English 
lands. On the continent its most common appellation is trictrac (France), 
while others are used in other lands, Portugal preserving the old tables 
{taholas)^ while Spain {taholas rraics) and Italy (tavola reale) use terms de- 
scended from the ancient name. The essential features in the old ^ame were: 
1. The double table (not moaning that there were actually two boards hinged 
or fastened together, such as we do indeed often see nowadays, thus made for 
the sake of convenience, but signifying that the board itself was divided into 

>4^ There ii a derivation «vi>n more ludicrous than thfi, given to the word fieklack, in 
that once famous buuk, alrtrady kuown to us, the *' Compleat Gamester/' — the first edition 
of which bears the «lulu of 1671- iu which we aro Informed that the game "is so called 
from ' touch aud takf,' fur If you touch a man you must play him, though to your loss *' — 
the etymological guusser not seeing that take and play are words of totally different 
meaning. 



160 



CBBSS IN IOF.LAND 



two parte, both bearing the technical n&me of "tablca," the meo moving. In 
the course of the g&me, out of the one into the other) ; S. The aamber of the 
^nen— 30inan,15 toeacliplsyor;and 3. The use of dice in deciding how the 
men were to be placed or moved. These are tikewise the chief features of 
backgammoD (trictrac, puff, tavola reaie). Only once, in any land, do we flnd 
xn alluBion to fower mon than 30, that being, aa we ehal! see, in the work 
of a modem Icelandic writer, with whom it is probably the result of an 
erroneous aasumption. The table-board, or ttackgammon-board, seems to 
have always had, in European usage, for the last ais-hundrod years, IS 
"pointa" on each board— S4 in all. Thus Tommaseo — as we remember 
(p. 86)— in hie great Italian dictionary tells us (sub voce "tavola") about 
the tavola rcale and its '• ventiquallro scacchi [^points]." '* In this con- 
nection it is weEl to bear in mind that the " points" in backgammon cor- 
respond to the "squares" in chess, and that they are expressed in some 
languages by the same word, as for instance, in the Arabic (W(, " house "). 
indeed, if we may give credit to a wood-cut occurring in Van der Linde'a 



account of the Alphonsine manuscript (" Qiiellenstudien," p. 7!), the points, 
in the first European board, were represented as "houses," that is, as 



quadrangular spaces. As to the little known about tlio treatment of the 



e of tables in this MS, the date 
of which is, as the reader will recall, 
as early as 1280, see the preceding 
section (pp. 87-89). 

On the North side of the Apen- 
nines, very soon alter this time, seve- 
ral reprosentaiions of the table-board 
are to be found in manusoripls pre- 
served in the public libraries. This 
fact, as well as the various dates 
which we have already given, prove 
that even before the days of Alfonso 




the 



large part of Europe was firoilfar with the game (see the many citations in 
Tad," pp. 69 ff.). The design showing two players at backgam- 



•* TscbBlullr Un "ori 



STRAY NOTES 



ISl 



mon(fig. 14)'"ieUken from a ricbly illustralcd MS now In the British UuMum, 
which certainly goes back (o the very beginniag or tlio XlVth century, or, w 
Borne schoUre think, to the century before that. On the board between them 
will bo seen the counters and some aC the points, as also the dice, or which 
last, as will bo noticed, three were used, as was not unusual. The absence 
ofdice-boMB may likewise beobservod, the dice, as we have suggested (pp,7W, 
note), having, as is evident.been "thrown" by the hand. Jt is plain that the 
partie is about to begin as none of the men have been placed. The next design 
(flg. 15) is from a later period, of the XlVlh century, and belongs to a MS 
in the same library, '« being a notable and inedited treatise on the game 








i^ 


'S 


A 


A 





T\g. IS. 

or tables, to which we refer in detail elsewhere. It shows a board com- 
posed of two tables, or four half-tables. Dr. Wright says: " It was probably 
this construction which caused the name to be used in the plural; and, as 
the Anglo-Saxons always used the word in the singular, as is the case also 
with John of Salisbury in the Xllth century, while the plural is always used 



»d>b< 


follow. 




cut w. UkB f.om 


tbe iiiKc 


e "On d 


mc 


llov 


mm ft 


nd mnoH- 


Mlddls 


Ac« 




rchBolag 


1 md : 






Tboaw 


n* 1^ 




■A 


iJouri,.!" (No.. 






irr 






IBH). n 




X 




r dlsDir 


-G.nib 














-Ur.ii»hW) of 


he iDlho 




oiT 




0O«.t1 










og Iba MIddl. A« 




ou IBSI 






1»1. 




>p*r>Ui 


rapr 




g, md ollh ■ up 


>ble <dlt 


r, DUb> 




b< 


<ullj 


■DUeb €11. 




ruul 


...I. 


«., (hough often 


.icilbtd, 


bu, M 


KOOld 


ppiar 


n««T 7«» 




•,V>' 




lb. uil btn 1.. r 


II. Tb. 






■.DM. 


utrilT Id 


» Ihe 






tf ISOO by lUo 


.1>udle 


Hbllar, 


Ur. 


filgfAi fil( 


i•^, DOW 




»,.l libr 
















Ifl pni 




I. 


t,w»h.™r)Uc;- 















•rUo Uilllo . >l . 



162 CHESS IN ICELAND 

by tbe writers of a later date, we eeem justifled in coDcludiog tliat the 
board used b^ the Anglo-Satons and Anglo-Normans cooBisted of one table, 
like tliat represented in figure 15, and that this was afterwards superseded 



talltl a«. Ilia i 



quDdllbil pnaetam Id piglna .mg. et In plflna ./: 



iiKum eipwtll In boc lads ngdiira pmietiin . g. M ./. par Julaa 



/I 






/ 



</ 






lull II (eriU, 


aquo 


■ uppoDl 


ur HD 


pat .rt„ quod 


pan 


stum . 


f. ogdara InpMlat «fHi«>Bn 




Ibidom 






auadum quad 




Dei. aodau [ablqu.i] palat da«» 


quu bomloei 








ua InvtDorli h 




■a idTa 






at fu 






■d pigtuaiu, 






■tli In iDlUo Indi. Bt aodan 




qal . 


Hal a I 








dllbal 


puDclum Id pailnit .«. at la 


p>(tD* . fp. . 


leaplo 










. bom 










u. bgoi 




pata. 




Kl quIcDnquB pataal iDclpar. 


ftllqurm haDl 


am ad 


















luKulor 






Rl 


uus II 


homo upliu radlbll ad pa. 


|ln.ui./«.»l 


utrabll com . t 


.lu./ 








T. iD.li. .louBi.lU.in.«. 


at num. )1. la 








b-w It IIU pu 


CtlD 






propriL. Dee e 


adila 


ar md» 












luilare. NoUD 




ad mul 




dit Dodita pu 






(., proplar aaaia* quu tupta 


dm. Kl n<.D priuH q 






"=' P*"e ■"¥- 


uiar 






loJUt eoi lub 




mi: SI 


allqua. 


baiulriei liibai 


Id p 






eqnlTalenll, t 








bumlnei iLuIaiii qui 








laoU, 








Dull 




raacJt Lb paaclo . I.; bamlaaa 


q»l ,uul la p 








. It. Tal auo a 


qalv. 




nil. 1. at 11. II., nlaaai.tl. 


•1 . T. ll DOD 


tuerin 




saa Id .«.; a 




Blaiap 


•1 aJIqiil bamlnai roarint Id 


















boDdDH In . 








■> .< allqui b 




• 'raari 


llD.i. lollaDtar aiiB.ll.Tal 




»l., .T 


-Iv.. 




iut t 


omlsei 


Id .(.IMalD.s. .DcelB.3. 



STRAY NOTES 16^ 



by the double board. '" But wo have already suggested that the plural term 
may have arisen from the fact that the scheme essential to the game was 
composed of two tabular designs, each with twelve points, and that thefte 

nee in . y.; et li allqai homines faerintln . q). tollentur per i. vel per .t!., .v., iv., ill., ii. el 
non •nut hominee In ,t. nee In .u. nee in .a;, nee in ,y. nee in a. Eodem mode lUe qui ee- 
det ex parte .am. toilet hominei luos In paglna ./a,, et ille qui prior abstalerit homlnea eaoi 
de tabula, Ille babeblt Tictoriam. 

Kit et alia magna et ■oUemDis et magnl magisterii, at si ille qai eedlt ex parte n<p. pouet 
nodare puncta n. o. p. q. r. ita quod punctnm «. esset apertum, et quod posiit eompellera 
adversarlam ■uura ducere viil. homines nsque In punotum a., et tune facere quod habeat 
unum bomfnem in . t, et allum in • u., et alinm In . x., et alium In .y., et alium In .«•, 
et allum in . q). et septimum adhuo irreductum ; et hsc victoria voeatur lympoldyng. Si 
autem tota pagina .q). fuit occupata per adversarfum [nee reliquitur?] unum ad lutrandnm 
[probably the author meane if the "punctum «" be not open; compare what follows] nbi 
agat [?] homines sues, non vocabltur ilia vietoria limpolding sed yocatur lurching, Cautela 
antem in hoc ludo est, nt ille qui sedet ex parte ,nq), habeat ista puncta nodata .n. o. p, 
9. r.f et quod punctum . «. sit apertum, Ita quod adversarius luus poisit exire cum homini* 
bus iuis usque ad paginam ,mg. Bt cum ibidem duxerit unum vel duos de suis, quod itatim, 
quam primum fieri potest, uodetur punctum . « . Ita quod non poisIt amplius exIre usque 
omnes homines, quos daxit in pagina . my. ponantur in puncto . a . et quod puneta . t, v. x, 
y, M. occupentnr per adversarium. Bt tune aperietur punotum .«., ut tum possit exire earn 
suis hominibus In pagina . my. et aic fiat usque . viii. homlnea adversaril redduoantnr in 
puncto [.a.]. Bt tunc clause puneto . «. fae adversarium iroplere cum sols hominibus puueta 
,U u. X. y. g. et tune reraanebunt duo homines adversarii in .^. Bt tunc aperlatur punetam 
,»., «t tune semper capias adversarium tnum in puncto . I. et ipse te recapiet per .vi., qnl 
est semper lactns suppositus, Itaque redibis ad paginam ./a. et Ibl intrabls, et redlbis ad 
paginam .nt, usque ille habeat unum laetum, per q\i€tn oportebit Ipsum evaeuare punctum .q}, 
de altero hominum ibidem repertorura, ita quod tantum alt in . q). unus homo, et rellquantur 
puoota . t, u, X. y, z. occupata per eum, et tune oaplea septimnm suum homlnem vagantem 
et tune erit llmpoldatas. Bat et alius modus ludendi modo supradictus et [hoe sine ?] taziUls, 
ut cum uterque ludentium posalt eligere iaotum quem voluerit. Ille tamen, qai habet prsero- 
gativam incipiendi, ipse vlncot si bonum ludat ; ipse eliget in primn suum laetum . vl. vi. v.; 
qui tune proprium laetum eligit, adversarius suus si velit exire cum duobus hominibaa ex 
pagina, In qua sitnatur in prime ludi ; In prime laotu electo podest nodare semper eum, et 
capere eum, et facere earn redire cum homine eapto et aic perdet lactua daorum taxilloram. 

Bat et tertius modus ludendi at quum unus elig^tur lactua doorum taxillornm, et adver- 
sarius anus dat . vi. laetum tertii taxilli, vel si ntraque para iactet sues taxilloa et para adveraa 
dat tertlum lactam. 

Pauma cari«. Bst et alius Indus ad tabulas qui voeatur pauma earU, et sit iste Indus cam 
duobus taxillis et sub hac forma. Nam debent duo ludentes esse ex una parte et duo ex alia, 
vel tres ex una parte et poaterlus alii ex alia parte, et sic alterutrum. Fiat aatem aora qai- 
[bua 7] habeant praerogativam incipiendi. Btatraque para habebit .xv. homines. Lndont aatem 
aub hac forma. Cum iactu primo ponet anum homiuem in . a. et eum .11. ponet homlnem iu 
. A. et eum . ill. ponet hominem in . e. et cum . iv . ponit homlnem in . d, et cum . v. ponet 
homlnem in . a . et cum . vi. ponet hominem in ./. Bt potcat nodari quodlibet punetam ; 
quum tamen unua homo iuvenitur aolus In puneto potest capi per adversarium, et tunc 
oportet Ipsum iterate Intrare ut priua. Cum intraverint homines auoa in pagina ./a. atatim 
toUent hominea auoa per seqoalea lactua, per quoa eoa intraveruut. Ille autem qui prior abata- 
lerit hominea auoa inciplet adjuvare adversarium suum et toilet hominea adveraari! aui naqoe 
omuea tollantur. Rt tune quot homines habult ab adversario auo, tune eum tot homlnibua p«r- 
eudet palmaa adversariorum suorum, et ideo voeatur paume earia, Notandum tamen quod in 
isto ludo si aliquis lactavlt taxlllos tallter quod siut aoquales, ut . vi. vi., v. v.,iv. iv.. Hi. ill., 
ii. li., 1. I., tarn eum . vi. vi. ponet. iv. homines in ./. et cum v. v. ponet iv. homines in. a. etaie 
deinoeps, et ultra hoe Iterate laetabit. Bt per eandem formam quum aufert hominea auoa, ai 
Saetet taxilloa Ita quod tactua aint sequalea, cam illo iactu aufert iv. hominea ai ibidem totl- 
dem reperlantur. Bt quotieaeanque autem homo eapitur redintrabit de novo; ille autem qui 
prior abstulerit homines suoa ipse vineet, sivo capiat homines ab adversario ano, aive non. 
Ille aatem qui nltimam homines abatulerit, ipae inolpiet iaetare in proximo ludo. 

Bat etiam alina modaa ludendi In hoe ludo ; qaum, ut pn^dletum eat, intrabant in pa- 
gina ./a. et priua daeent hominea auoa per paglnaa .my. n$, aaqua ad paglBam . ^t>. at Ibl 



164 CBESS IN ICELAND 



might have been, really were, and probably still are, in some localities, 
painted on a single piece of board. Dr. Wright adds: " It is hardly necessary 
to point out to our readers that these two pictures of the boards show us 

■ 

eos toHcnt, ut prsdictum est. Notandum tameo, quod In boo ludo potest quodlibet punetum 
nodari. Sic cum aliquis homo venerit in paglnam ./<]n. non potest amoTeri de loco usque tol> 
latur. Bt si allquls homo eapiatur ubicunque fuerit oportet prlmum redire ad paginam ./a. et 
Ibi intrare ut priua, et post reddnei ad paginam . ta, ct ibi toll!. 

Ludua Lumbardorum. Kst et alius ludas qui vocatur ludus Lumbardorum, ct est talis na- 
ture. Ille qui scdet ex parte . n<f. habebit familiam suam in ./., et qui sedit ex parte ,am. 
babebit familiam In . t. Tunc ille qui sedit ex parte . nrp, dueet omnis soos homines existen- 
tes In ./. per puncta .e. d, e. b, a. in pagina . ttp. et ibi eos toilet. Cum omnes Ibidem 
fiierint ducet, [?] ot erit q^. primum punetum in ablaiione, et auferat omnes homines Ibidem 
exist^ntes per .vi.; sic qui sunt in .z. anferentur per . v. et .vi. [thus only, if no man Is 
In .77.; compare the rules of ludu» Auglieoritm] et sic deinceps., Rt si eaplatur allquls homo 
sous, tunc redibit intrando in paginam ./a. et rcdeat ad paginam .<pt,; et notandum qnod 
intrare non potest in ./. cum Aierlt occupatum per proprios homines, nee in allqno pnneto 
nodato per adversarium. In punctis tamcn . e. et . a, Intfare potest, licet sunt oecupata per 
proprios homines, Ideo raultum expcdit ilia puucta nodare, at habeatur Introltus si necesse 
fuerit. Item sxpe expedit nodare puncta . o. et u, ut Impediatur introltus advertarll. Bt ale 
eodem niodo faciet adversarius sous in punctis contra se positis. Victoria autem est oomaia- 
nis, vidillcet ut qui prior homines suos abstulerit ipse vincet. Bt fiet iactus cum dnobns 
taxlllis tantum et non pluribus. 

Imperial. Est et alius ludus qui vocatur impenal et est talis naturie. Ille qui sedit ex 
parte .ntp. habebit tertiam partem familias stisc, sive .v. in .p. et allam tertiam In . «. el 
allam tertiam in . <. Rt qui sedet ex parte .am. habebit eodem mode familiam snam In ,k, 
g» /. Bt si pars .ntp. cum famllla tota citius renlt ad punetum .<p. qnam adTertarlus ad 
punetum . a. ipse vincit, si alitor, Tlneitur. Bt flut Iactus cum trlbns taxillis. 

r[ro]uineial. Est et alius ludus qui vocatur p[ro]mneial ot tantum variatur ab imperial 
lu sitiiatione hominum, quam in hoc ludo omnes horoiues tx una parte situantur in pnnctls ,g/, 
Baralie. Est et alius ludus qui vocatur baralie, et est tails naturse. Ille qui tedlt ex parte 
,am, si ultimo fuorit lucratus ludum, vel habeat prsorogatlvam lactos taxillorum ponet omnes 
suos homines In jiuncto ,q>. Et ducentur omnes homines ntriusque partis per . a/, usque ad 
paginam .gm. et in ilia pagina tollcntor. Et qui prior abstulerit Ille vincet. Bt si aliqols homo 
hinc inde capientur flat introltus In pagina . ru. et ducatur per paginam . ^ et . a/, ad pa- 
ginam ,gm, Bt notandum quod in qnallbdt pagina potest fieri nodus. Bt sit iactus cam duobna 
taxillis, ct subintelligitur numerus .vl. pro tertio taxiilo. SI autem pars.n^. vineit, tnnc ponet 
homines suos In pnneto . &. excepto uno qui erit in .c; et pars alia omnes in puneto .0. et 
ducentur omnes homines usque ad paginam . ns. et Ibi auferentur, ut prius fiebat In pagina 
.«g., et In ilia pagina fiat Introltus si aliquis homo eaplatur, et ducantur per ./a. tpi, uiqae 
ad paginam . «n. 

Faylyi, Est et alius ludus qui vocatur faylyt^ et est talis natorie. Ille qui sedit ex parte 
,ntp. habebit totam familiam saam in . <. exceptis duobus, qui erunt In .0.; et qnl aedet ex 
parte . am, habebit totam familiam snam In ./. exceptis duobus, qui erunt in ,tp, Et ladant 
cum tribus taxillis, si tot habeant, si autem tantum habeant duos, tune dnpl[ie]abltur tazillus 
minoris numerl. Bt tunc ille qui sedit ex parte . n<p. ducet duos suos homines in . a. otqa* ad 
A. Bt primum [in] consuetum modum omnes toilet. Et nodet omnia puncta in pagina ,Up, al 
▼ellt. Et si capiatur aliquis homo snus redibit ad paginam ./a. et ibi intrabit et redibit; et 
intrare potest In qnolibet puneto, etiam si fuerit occupatum alio vel allis sals bominibus : in 
pnneto tamen nodato per adversarium non potest Intrare. Bodem mode potest ille faeere ex 
parte adversa, et faciei cam eodem modo. Victoria autem talis est. Qui prior abstalerit DamI- 
Ham proprlam, vIncent ; vel si adversarius suns aliqua vice habeat talem lactum qui ladl non 
potest in toto, tunc subito ille vinoitur qal talem lactum habult, et Ideo vocatur /aylfs. 

Est et alius Indus qui vocatur [myH$^ a word now Illegible or erased, but Ihoa given by 
Strutt early In the ZlXtb century] cujus natorso talis est. Unus eorum babebit dnos bominea 
in .1;. et .Iv. in ./. et . iv in . e. ot .v. in ,tpf et Ille babebit prserogatlvam taxiUonun. Bt 
(let lactns cum duobus taxillis et pnesupponentur .vl. pro tertio taxlllo. Alia pars habebit .lii. 
homines in . g, et .III. In . d. et . ill. In c et . Hi. in . fc. et . iii. In a. Bt omnea hooklnea 
ntriusque partis ducentur ad paginam .mg. et Ibi auferentur. Bt qui prior abstulerit tnoe ipM 
vincet. Hit si aliquis homo bine Inde eapiatnr (let introltus In pagina ,n*. et dneentnr per pa- 
ginam ,i^, et . a/, oaqae ad paginam ,vig, et ibi auferentur earn tempai fberit opportowim. 



STRAY NOTES 165 



clearly that the medireval game of tables was identical with our modern 
backgammon, or rather we should perhaps say, that the game of backgam- 
mon, as now played, is one of the games played on the tables/* 

Sant et in Insu tabularam qnro caotelic sunt proprie, quorum priinie ost ex lado aoglieo* 
rum, et tit sub taxillii, quum nua pars habebit lupremum lactam . tI. vi. t1. et babitbit pre- 
rogatiTam inclplendi, altera autem pars habebit sapreoiom lactam . II. i. i.; llle tamen qol 
habet laetom fl. }. I. llle vincet si bonum ludat : quia cum luserint omues potest habere duoi 
homines Id puneto .fc. si sederlt fx parte .nrp, vel duos in puncto . /k. si sederit ex parte .a»«; 
et tanc in proximo Idsu cum . I. 1. potest iiodare punctum . «. Tel . g* Itaqae pars adrersa non 
poterit exire, et totic faeillter potest Tincere si sclat ludere ; vel si possit eapere unum homi- 
nem de adversario sno facilitor potest vlncere, quod ille homo captus namqaam potest reddoei 
In paglnam, ubi debet tolli, usquo alius abstulerit omnes suos homines exeeptit duobos qni 
stabant in paneto ubi llle debet Intrare snum eaptum. 

S^t et alia Iropertia In lusa tabularum ; nam llle qol sedet ex parte ,nq). habebit dnoa 
homines in puncto .t. et alios duos In .u. et ille qui sedet ex parte . am, habebit unum ho- 
mlnem In . q?,, qnem debet ducere per pagioam ^Up, «n. My. et auferro in pagina ./a. et erit 
semper laetus snus .It. It. Iv.; llle autem qui sedet ex parte .nqt, toilet suos quatuor homines 
in pagina ubi staut primum In rommunem modum, et erit semper iactus snus . Hi.; llle aatem 
Tincet si sciat ludere, quod cum . i. I. i. unum de suls quos habet in . L ponet in . y. et In 
secnndo iactu capiet homlnem, qui est in .^., et hoe cam .i. i., et eum tertio .1. ponet in .se^ 
alteram daornm qui sunt In .n. Rt tune llle qui est ex parte .am, lutrabit hominem mam 
cum .It. It. It. et ponot oum in . n. et>tunc ille qui sedet ex parte . n. [q>\. hominem saam 
eaptnm In puneto .x, intrabit in puncto a. cam .1. et eum .11. ponet hominem soum ln%s. 
qui prius fait In .1. Rt tunc pars adversa cum ,iv, iv. iv. Iterum capiet )v>roinem altorlas In 
pnneto . a. et tune iterate ille qui sedet ex parte . nqy. Intrabit hominem sunm, et oum . 11. 
dncot eum In puncto . b. et cum tertio .i. uodabit punctum ,x. Itaque pars adversa non po- 
terit Intrare. Rt tune cum septies . i. 1. i. ducet hominem qui est In . b. usque ad punetum .«. 
Et tune In octavo lusu toilet duos homines qui sunt In . s. et in .tp. et postea cum tribus t1- 
cibus toilet illos homines qui sunt In . y. et adhuo remanebit homo partis adversie in . a.; 
itaquti vfncetur. Rt sclat qnod alio modo quam ut prsedletum est non potest fieri Tietorla. 

Kst et alia Impertia similis priori, at si ponantur . III. homines in . t, ex nna parte, et ex 
parto alia erit nnus homo in .x. qui habebit laotum ut prius .!▼. It. It. et alius habebit iae- 
turn . i. I. i. Ille autem qui habet homines suos In ,t, habebit prserogativam inelpiendl. Rt 
cum . 1. I. capiet hominem adyersarii sul in . x, et cum tertio . I. ponet hominem in . u. Bt 
tunc adversarlus suns in . n. Bt tune ille qui sedet ex parte .9Hf, Intrabit hominem tanm 
in . a. cum uao . I. et cam . I. 1. ponet hominem suum in . x. qui prius fult In • I. Rt tone 
ille qui sedit ex parte .ma, Iterum capiet allam in .a.; et tune ille intrabit In .a. eapient 
adversarium suum, punens ilium hominem cum . i. I. In puneto . b, et tune eum tertio . i. no- 
dablt panctum . a;., itaque pars adversa non poterit intrare. Et tune luerabitur ludam at •■- 
pra in pjroxima Impertia. 

Est et alia impertia, at si tu qui sedes ex parte ,ntp, habeas unum hominem In .n. et .it. 
in paneto . t, et septimum in puncto . <p. et In pagina . itp, tolles homines tuos, et habebit 
prsorogativam inelpiendl ; ille autem, qui sedet ex parte .ma. habebit trea homines In puncto./. 
et in pagina ,/a. eos toilet, et ambse partes habebunt nqaalea iaetoa; magisterlam aatem eat 
tales imaginari iaetas ; maglsteriam autem est tales imaglnari iactus per qaos poterla ludan 
lacrari. Rt (let tub bae forma : primus iaetat erit .iv. iv. It. «t secandus iactus .vi. Ti . i. ot 
tertius . vl. tI. tI. 

Est et alia impertia, simllls priori, at si tu qui sedes ex parte .n^. habeas anam homi- 
nem In n. et .t. in pnneto . I. et ille qui sedet ex parte . am, habebit . Hi. homines in poneto 
./. qui debet toUere homines taos in pagina . tip, babeblaque prierogatlTam inelplendi. Bt 
arabo Tos habebis nquaies lactos, magisterlam autem est tales imaginari iactus per quos potet 
ludum lucrarl, sub Isto tamen paeto, qood nullum hominem tolles in prime iacto. Fiet autem 
sub hao forma. Primus iactus erit . It. It. ill., aeeandns lactos erit . vl. tI. i. et tertiut laeUn 
erit . Ti. vl. vl. 

Kst et alia Impertia, at si to sedeat ex parte .no. babens tres homines is . 6. c. d, qwM 
debes ducere per paglnas ,mg, et .tu. et toUere eos in pagina ,tip.; llle aatem qui sedIt ez 
parto . ma, habebit unum hominem in . n. quem debet ducere ad paglnam ,/a. et Ibi tollero, 
et erit lactut sous semper . ill. i., sed iactus tuns semper erit . tI. Ti. et to habebit praerofm- 
tlvam indpiendi ; vel alia de hoe non eet eura ; ti aoten Telit Inerarl ladmn oporttt la «!• 
pere earn et ita lad«re, nt tpta t« non eapiat. 



1«« CHESS jy ICELAXD 



Aboot this wecand British Mobeoxit codcx sBJts. 13 A xriii^ Dr. Wright 
has a fev vords to say. chicflj eoofcraing the ope&inf »petao«. He remarks: 
^ Id tbe manajscript last quoted tlie Hgurt of tbe board it giren to illustrate 
a rerj canocv treati&e on tbe game of tables, wriueo in Latin, in tbe 
XlVtb, or perhaps erea, in tbe Xlllth, centmr. Tbe writer begins hj 
informing us. that * there are many games at tables vitb dioew of which the 
first is the long game, which is the game of the Knglish : it is common, 
and is plajed as follows ' {mulii sunt ludi ad UOmias cum iaxQiis^ quorum 
primus est Umgus ludus, et est ludus AngUcorum^ ef est commwM^ ef est. 
talis naturc^y, meaning, I presume, that it was the game osoallT played in 
England. From the directions given for playing it. this game seems to hsTe 
had a close resemblance to bacligammon. The writer of the treatise says 
that it was played with three dice, or with two dice, in whidi latter case 
they ooanted six at each throw for the third dice. In some of the other 
games described here, two dice only were used. We learn from this treatise 
the English terms for two modes of winning at the * long game * of tables 
—the one being called * lympoldyng,* the other Marchyng;* and a person 
losing by the former was said to be ' lympolded.* The writer of this tract 
gives directions for playing at several other games of tables, and names 
some of them — such as * paume carie,* the Lombard^s game (/tidies Lombar- 
dorum)^ the imperial,' the 'provincial,' 'baralie,' ['mylis'], and *ftiyls.* 
Perhaps this '' long game ** is the same as that variety, which was and 
sometimes still is styled in German ** der lange PafT/* Paume carrie is a 
title drawn from a variety of tennis. In the text of this codex throaghont, 
it is to be observed that the small Roman numerals i to vi (and xv) repre- 
sent generally the throws of the dice, but sometimes the numbers of the men; 
while the small italicised letters a, 6, c, d, e>, A ^, A^ i, k^ ^ m, », o, p, 9, 
r, s, t, u, or, y, ^, and f refer to the points on the board as given in fig. 16. 
In the first game mentioned, known at that time as the ''English game^* 
{ludus Anglicorum), the player sitting on the am side of the board places his 
fifteen men at ? ; his opponent, seated on the fif side, enters all his at a. • The 
men at f are moved through the tables f ^ sn and mg into /Vx, where they 
are thrown off. His opponent moves his pieces from a through the tables 
^A 9^1 ^^« ^^^^ '?« whence they are thrown off. He whose men are first 
thrown off wins the game. Either two or three dice may be used, but, with 
only two, a third is supposed, its imagined throw being at each cast, 6. 
Tlie men are doubled on the points, and blots are hit very much as in the 
modern game, but there are many minor details. In the description of this 
game "limpolding," or "lympoldyng,'' and "lurching" seem to be somewhat 
like the simpler Jans in the modern French game, being applied to certain 
positions of the men. In the paume car^e four players take part, either 
two against two, or three against one. Two dice are employed, and appar- 
ently only six men. In the "Lombard game'' the nf player places his 
fifteen men on f while the am player sets his on t. In the so-called "Im- 
periaP' game the nf player has, at the outset, five men on p, five on s and 
the remainder on t ; his opponent divides his men between Ac, ^, and f. If 
the nf player brings all his men to the f-point before those of his adver- 
sary reach the a-point the former wins. In the "Provincial" variety the 
method of play is the same as in the "Imperial," except that the men of 
one side are all placed on the points g and f (and, supposedly, those of the 



STRAY NOTES 167 



other side on s and t), ^^Baralie'* is a game in which the am player sets 
his men on f and leads them through af to gm where they are thrown out. 
The subsequent details differ from those of any previously-n^med variety. In 
'^faylys'* (which we have heard of before under the name of fayles)^ the nf 
player places his men on t except two, which are on a ; while his opponent 
has all his pieces on f, except two pieces, which are on ^. As in most of 
the other varieties, captured men must return to their original table, and 
again begin their rounds. Three dice are used, but if only two are at hand, 
then, at each throw, the smaller number is regarded as doubled. Appar- 
ently the variety styled ^^mylis** most resembles the modem English back- 
gammon, since the men are divided on each side among four or five points, 
one player having two on A, four on /; four on e and five on ^ ; while the 
other has three men on g^ three on (2, three on c, three on h and three 
on a. Following these named varieties half a dozen other games are des- 
cribed by the author of the codex in closing, but without names. A com- 
parison of this with similar codices in continental libraries is greatly to be 
desired. 

In Spain, if not elsewhere, we hear of table-boards made of precious 
materials and with great artistic skill, chiefly to be found, at a very early 
date, among the treasures of royal and princely palaces (see pp. 89-90). We 
have not been able to discover any such preciously adorned relics North of 
the Apennines, of a date earlier than the 15th century, but not a few, made 
in the two following centuries, are preserved in the great museums of Eu- 
rope, notably at Nuremburg, Munich, Paris and London — one specimen, of 
some little interest, from South Germany, existing in the archeeological 
museum of Iceland. They are not, however, as common as the costly early 
boards used for the game of chess, and when found are generally united 
with a chess-board. Their scarcity may be explained in various ways, the 
most plausible being the probable simplicity and cheapness of the boards 
used in early times. The game of tables, though often mentioned with chess, 
seems not to have been looked upon, either as so serious, so refined, or so 
courtly a diversion, and neither the material nor the workmanship of its 
implements would be so ornamental or so solid as in the higher class of 
chess-boards. Nor do the ** points" of the backgammon -board yield them- 
selves to the art of decoration as do the squares of the chess-board— so 
striking in their outlines and in their conjunction as to have been adopted as 
a decorative feature in all times — oven in lands like Egypt where chess was 
unknown — in all branches of art, and in every material. The very earliest 
board for ''tables** consisted doubtless of a simple design painted or drawn 
on a flat piece of wood, or perhaps canvas, with no costly adornments, no pan- 
nelling, no inlaid work, no colours — just as we find so many schemes, em- 
ployed for the various line-games of the ancient world, scratched on the 
stone steps of public buildings, or on pavements of courts and terraces in 
Rome and elsewhere. Moreover it must be remembered that we have no ar- 
tistic chess-boards until after the custom of distinguishing the squares by the 
different colours came in, and it Is almost certain that the backgammon 
"points'* were until a later period only outlined. 

In regard to the mode of playing the game of tables we have no precise 
information earlier than the XI Vth century, since we have no access to the text 
of the Escurial MS prepared by order of King Alfonsoin the Xlllth. There were 



1«8 CHESS IN ICELAND 



at that time, as in later periods, many games difTering, in more or less im- 
portant ways, from cacii other. This was doubtless the case even in much 
earlier ages. Alfonso enumerates some fourteen or fifteen such varieties, 
while another MS, of English origin, gives eight ; just as a recent French pub- 
lication treats of eleven. Some of these games, like the various games of 
cards, doubtless tiad their periods of popularity and oblivion. Perhaps, as 
now with the different sorts of backgammon, some were more common in 
one land, while others were more played in other countries. This is one of 
ttio marked ditferenccs between tables mard, backgammon) and chess. There 
is only one kind of chess, and all efforts made, in older and later times, to 
introduce varieties, have been failures. They have scarcely been proposed, 
perhaps propounded and explained in a whole printed volume, when they are 
forgotten. Another thing to be noted, in this regard, is the fact that the im- 
portant element of tables is the board. Dice are used in other games than 
those practiced on the table-board, and may be even used for purposes of 
diversion, by themselves; while the counters, or men, belong to. draughts, 
mercllcs, and other sports as much as they belong to backgammon. The board 
therefore is the only unique implement. Chess, on the other hand, possesses 
a board used in no other noteworthy game except in draughts, whicli is merely 
a derived and simi)lilloil form of chess, and the only enduring one which 
can claim such ancestry. The men employed on the chess-board are oven 
more sui (jcnaris. There is nothing like them in any other sport possessing 
either age or importance. They have doubtless been imitated in cards, but 
cards go back only to a date comparatively modern. It is largely to this 
fact, namely, the exceptional character of the men, to which chess chiefly 
owes its individuality, and the slight modifications it has undergone through 
its long history. It is to the opposite characteristic that tables is indebted 
for its many varieties, so that, unlike chess, it even now bears different 
names in different countries. 

Now we must go back to an older epoch and to lands outside of ISurope. 
Although there is no doubt that chess originated in India, and grew to a 
high degree of perfection there long before it reached Arabia, yet the early 
Indian chess literature, which has come down to us, is insignificant indeed, 
when wo compare it with the numerous treatises still existing in early Arabic. 
It was in fact in Arabia that the practical and analytic side of the game, no 
less than its history, really began to be seriously investigated. It is, there- 
fore, perhaps not surprising that the oldest known allusion to chess in 
Sanskrit literature should be only a century earlier than the oldest known 
mention of it in Arabic letters. The name of the lirst Sanskrit writer is Rat- 
nakara, an inhabitant of CaNhmere, author of an important poem called *^Ha- 
ravijaya'* in which the names of the chess-pieces are cited. His date is per- 
fectly well known, as he was a subject and proUyc of a king of Cashmere, 
who reigned from A. I). l<:)r) to S47.*** Hut it is noteworthy that the first known 
allusion to chess, as well as the first attempt to recount the origin of both 
chess and nard^ ))einngs neither to Sanskrit nor Arabic literature, but to a 
peculiar period of what is customarily styled Middle-I'ersian literature, of 
which the written medium is known as l*ahlavi. In 1878 the noted Somitist, 

*''-' Sue tbo ft'luilrable eH«ay uf llio <li«Uii-;uiaho(l SAuskrIt xcliolar IIorinanD JaeobI, ''Ubor 
swei &ltcro env&buun;{vu dvN ■ubacb«iiUli In <l(>r Haimkrll-liilorMur ** lu the "Zcitgebrift d«r 
deuUehen luorgeuUuititcbcn feiellarhaft" ^1H90, |»|>. I'iT-MS). 



STRA Y NOTES 169 



Professor Theodor Noldeke of Strassburg, published a German translation of 
the *''' Karnamak/' a fanciful account of the education and adventures of a 
Persian Prince, greatly resembling, in manner and matter, those prose and 
metrical tales, which abounded in the European literatures, during the Xllth 
and on to the XlVth centuries, from Italy to Iceland. In this ** Story of Ar- 
dachshir,'' we are told that among the accomplishments which that prince 
acquired was catrang (as the word is now transliterated), a vocable represent- 
ing the Sanskrit caturanga (pronounced tchaturanga), that is to say chess. 
This work was produced between the years 590 and 628 — let us say about 
the beginning of the Vlth century — and is the earliest yet ascertained au- 
thentic mention of the old Indian game in history or literature. In 1885 there 
were edited at Bombay by a native Parsi scholar, four other Pahlavi writings 
accompanied by a translation into Gujarati and a less well executed English 
version. At least one of these stories — and perhaps others — was printed 
in the original text, with a German rendering, at St. Petersburg by Dr. K. 
G. Salemann, director of the Asiatic museum in that city, in a volume en- 
titled ** Mittel-persische studien" (1887). This was an account of the inven- 
tion of nard and chess, being possibly the first allusion to the former game 
in any now extant work. The same tract was again fully described in 1892 
by Professor Noldeke, in his "Persische studien II,** contained in the pro- 
ceedings of the Vienna imperial academy of sciences (philosophical and 
historical section). He speaks of it as '^ Das Pehlei^-buch vom schach- 
spiel,'' and places its date in the first century of Islam, that is between 622 
and 722. 

The following is the tale in outline : **• A king of India sends the learned 
and sagacious Tachtaritus to. king Chosrau Anosharvan with the game of 
chess, which had been invented by this sage — half the pieces thus trans- 
mitted being of emerald and the other half of ruby. If the Iranians, writes 
the Indian king, could divine the mode and manner of this game, thus showing 
that their wise men were not excelled by their contemporaries of India, then 
the Indians were to pay tribute to the Persians. If not, then tribute was to 
be paid by the Persians. At the end of the third day the Persian vizier, 
Vazurjmihr explained the now game of chess, and at once won twelve games 
against Tachtaritus. He followed this up by producing, himself, a second 
new game, to which he had given the name of the new Ardachshtr [that is, 
the "excellent*'— or as some say "new**— Artaxerxes**], because Artaxorxcs 
had been the wisest monarch who had existed during the last thousand years. 
This game was nard. The vizier declared that it represented human life and 
action, in their dependence on the course of the planets and zodiacal signs. 
The board signified the earth ; the 30 men the 30 civic days of the month, 
that is to say, the 15 white ones, the days, and the 15 black ones, the nights; 
the moving to and fro of the pieces portrayed the courses of the constella- 
tions ; the ace of the dice corresponded to the unity of the creator, the deuce 
to the duality of heaven and earth, the trey to the trinity of thought, word 
and deed, the quatre to the four primal elements of nature (dryness, damp- 
ness, warmth, cold), as well as to the four points of the compass, the cinq to 
the five lights, namely the sun, moon, stars, fire and twilight; the size, to 
the gahanbar(8), or the six days in which God created the world. King Chosrau 
now sends the new game under strong escort to the Indian monarch. As no 
one is able to elucidate it, the escort returns with a double tribute. The nar- 

22 



170 CHESS IN ICELAND 



ration ends by asserting, however, that in chess, reason and intelligence alone 
decide the contest.*^® 

Next in time comes the Arabic writer, Jaq'ubi, who, about 880, relates 
the same story, ascribing, however, the invention of both games to an Indian 
sage at the instance of an Indian king. He adds to the allegory of the Pah- 
lavi author that the twelve houses (''points") represent the twelve months 
and the twelve zodiacal signs; "das steht in Pehlewi-buche nicht,'' says 
Noldeke. Then follows one of the most famous of the early figures in Arabic 
literature, Mas*udi, who, in his historical cyclopsedia entitled, after the 
fantastic manner of the Easterns, "Meadows of Gold,'' declares, 947 years after 
Christ, that nard was the invention of king Ardachsher Babakan (Artaxerxes, 
the son of Papak), who was, by the way, the very hero of the "Karnamak,'' 
in which occurs the oldest mention of chess. The allegorical description of 
the game by Mas'udi was the same, in all its features, as that given by 
Jaq'ubi. 

Finally the Persian poet, Firdausi, author of the greatest Asiatic epic, the 
Shahnamo'' (the composition of which was finished in 1011), reproduces the 
principal incidents relating to nard^ as they stand in the "Karnamak,'' chang- 
ing slightly the name of the vizier to Buzurgmihr, omitting some of the alle- 
gorical details and altering others. Dr. Noldeke asserts that the Pahlavi nar- 
rative, without doubt, was the source from which Firdausi drew, unless the 
two authors availed themselves of a still earlier common source now lost. 
What the Persian poet says of nard — as is well known — is only a prelimin- 
ary, or an adjunct to his highly poetical narrative of the introduction of 
Indian chess into Persia. It seems to be generally regarded that from the 
name given to the new game by the old Persian sage, pronounced fietoar- 
dasher, came ultimately the word nard, and its other Eastern name nerdshlr. 
We perhaps ought to state, before leaving this topic, that what is called the 
Pahlavi language is really the Persian of a certain period (which coincides 
with the dominance of the Sassanian dynasty, that is from the Illd to the 
Vllth century), mixed with some foreign, chiefly Semitic elements, and hav- 
ing a peculiar sort of half-cryptographic alphabet, which renders the read- 
ing of the texts a most difllcult task ; indeed, as it seems, it may be taken 
as a rule that in this singular mode of graphic expression, all words are 
pronounced exactly as they are not written. 

In the matter of ^uzrd — if the reader will excuse a brief excursus — the 
student will do well to consult, with the greatest care, the work of Hyde, 
the early date of which (1694) makes it of high importance, even in regard 
to the European forms of this diversion. We are able to give here only a 
hasty and inadequate summary of his treatment of the subject, merely by 
way of reference to the student. The title given to the second volume of his 
**De ludis Orientalibus''— which is dedicated to John Hampden, the younger 
— is "Historiar Nerdiludii,'' as the larger part of it is devoted to the Ms- 
tory of nard and other ancient games played with dice. He cites — we 
retain, for the most part, his transliterations — most of the technical terms 
in various Oriental languages, as well as in Latin and Greek, many of which 
we have already given from other sources. He states that in a large part 

^ For a more careful ootice of one of the booka here cited, see a letter, by the present 
writer, la the <* Nation" of New Yorlc, LXXI, 1900, pp. 13S-1S4. 



STRAY NOTES ill 



of the East the Persian word nard has been adopted, with some changes of 
form, as the title of the game; he likewise mentions nerd ardeshir (derived, 
he says, from the name of the inventor, Ardesher Babakan), which became 
nardsher^ and remarks that a Hebrew lexicologist errs when he makes the 
last word signify ^^ dade cd-nerd, i. e. tesseras nerdicas^'' the dice used at 
nard. He goes on to state that the Hebrews formed from the Greek the word 
"kubia*' (from -Aofaoc) as the name of the game; and that this word was also 
received into Arabic in almost the same form, a Turkish writer declaring that 
"el-quba'* is the game which is called nard. Hyde makes the game identical 
with the ^^scripta duodecim"" of the Latins, quoting many passages from 
classic authors. Of English names given to various games played on the 
table-board he enumerates "tric-trac'' ("in Anglia vocamus tiC'tac'")^ Irish, 
"back-gamon," "doublets'' or ** queens-game" (the last being in French, he 
says, " tables rahhaiues or dames rahbatues^ or dames avaUdes*'). He derives 
back-gamon, [sic] in the etymological manner of his age, from back-game- 
on, which he declares to be the same as "back again and then game on,'' 
referring to the forward and return movement of the men. The French title 
of a variety of tables, verquier, he tells us is in Flemish verkeer ; in Danish 
forkeering and in German, verkehrung. 

"The points of tlie tables" as he styles them in English, are called in 
French rayons; in Italian, case; in Arabic, baijut (sing, bet); in Persian kha- 
naha (sing, khanu), signifying, in the last two languages named, "house." 
He records the appellations given to the die and dice in different tongues 
(writing erroneously in Danish, terming instead of teming), as Latin, tesserae 
(giving the derivation), and aleae; old Greek, x6po»; but called in the dic- 
tionary of Hesychius fw^^o? ; in modern Greek Capt> aCapt and xa iiapia; 
in Turkish, aar, the writer taking care to assert that he does not know 
whether the Turkish comes from the modern Greek, or the modern Greek 
from the Turkish. He explains correctly the low Latin dadus and its modern 
derivatives; then follows a chapter on the terms ptir^o^, turricula SLXidfritUlus 
illustrated by many classical passages. It is in his chapter " De tesserarum 
jactibus, etdelusibus," that Hyde cites the writer Cardanus, an Italian math- 
ematical and miscellaneous author of the XVIth century: "In our age the 
best known games of the table are with three dice, sperdtnum, sperdii and 
sperdionum, whence the board itself is called sperdinum. In - the vulgar 
tongue of Italy they call them sbarainum, &c." Calcagninus seems to de- 
rive the name from sperando, but in Italian sbaraiare signifies to 'scatter' 
and sbarainum what is s6attered. Other three noted games with two dice are: 
docadiglium, which is of two kinds, the small and great [the long] ; also canis 
martins, which demands much more ingenuity ; and another game called 
minoretta, also of two sorts, major and minor." Hyde then informs us that 
Bernardo da Parigi says that sbaraglino or sbaraglio [see a later page], is 
the game which is called in Turkish tauli or tawuli. Hyde then continues,- 
saying that the Orientals have a peculiar kind of game at tables, which is 
generally known as tawla or tavola; another, more intricate, is called in 
Arabic muratjl, which has been explained as signifying speratum or res 
sperati, because in it victory is often hoped for but not obtained ; it is the 
same as the above named Flemish or Dutch verkeer ; another is called iuhati 
or taukati, perhaps the same as the English tic-tac. Then he mentions a 
game of the Persians, styled ferid meaning "simple." The general name for 



m CHESS IN ICELAND 



nard in Sanskrit is dutu and a particular kind of it, oshkaka-kurido (t). He 
learns that the board is used in India for a game called tchupur'^ ftirth^ on 
he gives extracts from the Greek (Agathias Scholasticus) reciting the playing 
of tables by the emperor Zeno [d.49I] ; and from the Persian, Firdau^, and 
the Arab, Ibn Kalikan — all in the original as well as Latin translations. 
Subsequently he tells the various stories of the invention of tiard by Pala- 
medes, Ardesher Babakan and others. 

So much for Hyde, of whose heaped-up erudition on this theme it is dif- 
ficult to give any adequate idea; his chapters relating to the game, before 
he begins to treat of the pure dice games, are entitled: I. De nerdiladii 
nominibus; II. De nerdiludii tabella; III. De tesseris seu aleis; lY. De 
frustulis seu trunculis lusoriis ; V. De turricula, fritillo, Ac; VI. De tessera- 
rum jactibus et de lusibus ct de aliquot vocabulis lusoriis ; VII. De primario 
nerdiludii scopo; VIII. De nerdiludii antiquitate et prime auctore, including a 
section styled "De nordiludio chinensium.*' It will be noticed, however, 
that the author is not very full or precise about the method of playing 
the various games or varieties which he names, but this is doubtless the 
result of the vagueness characterizing his Oriental and other sources. 

The impressions then, which we get from these narratives relating to 
nard are, firstly, that its origin, if we may regard the mythical accounts 
as of any historical value, is to be assigned to Persia rather than to India, 
although chess and nard apparently make their earliest historical appearance 
in contiguous regions of those two lands ; secondly, that among the Arabic 
peoples, at all events, nard preceded chess, or was at least as early as it. The 
Mohammedan legal traditions, as Dr. Van der Linde points out ("Quellen- 
studien,'' p. 7), allude to ^lard as existing in the Prophet's life-time, but 
make no mention of chess before his death. The first clear contemporary 
utterance in regard to Arabic chess is in a letter (780) written by the Caliph 
Mahdi, rebuking the people of Mecca for their loose habits, among them 
being the practice of playing both nard and chess; and in the so-called 
"Kitab ol-ghani,"— apparently a poetical miscellany — the compiler of which 
died in 967, we find mention of nard^ chess and of a game which resembled 
morris as well. The first Arabic author of a practical work on chess is stated 
to be el-*Adli, a noted player (the date of whose treatise is uncertain, but is 
seemingly to be placed before 862) who is reported to have likewise composed 
a book on nard ("Kitab ol-nard"). The two games long continued to exist 
beside each other, and to be contrasted with each other, in the Arabic world, 
for in the XVIth century Muhammod Sukaiker, of Damascus (Hyde, II, p. 54, 
cited also by V. d, Linde, "Quellenstudien," p. 24) wrote a work to prove 
the superiority of chess to nard. In the Gamara, or Babylonian Talmud, 
appears, in a Hebrew form from the Persian, the word nenlshlr^ that is, the 
game of nard, in which place it can certainly not be much later than the 
Vlth century. If its insertion in that production, as seems undeniable, took 
place in Syria, it would be surely earlier than we could expect to encounter 
any*allusion to chess in that part of Asia. This Talmudic title of the game 
(tierdshir) is explained by various early European Hebrew philologers, such 
as Nathan ben Jechiel (Rome 1103), Kalonymos ben Kalonymos (1322), and 
others, all agreeing in the opinion that it signifies a game either identical 
with, or similar to nard. The word is also cited by Prophiat Duran (known 
as Ephodsfius), a Hebrew from Northern Spain, in 1403— its latest appearance 



STRA Y NOTES 173 



in Europe according to Dr. M. Steinschnoider^s exhaustive ^^Schach. bci den 
Juden" (see V. d. Lindens "Geschichte/* I., p. 157). No reference to chess 
occurs in the Talmud. It is historically significant that the Byzantine Greeks 
did not receive the word nard from Arabic, or Persian, or Hebrew sources. 
They only knew the game by its Latin title, which they adopted, and from 
which they made several derivatives (see p. 81), proving that the diversion 
came to the Greek world from the West, that is by way of Italy. On the 
oUier hand Byzantium, as the reader will remember, first obtained the game 
of chess and its name (Carptxtov) from the Arabs, at a time when its people 
had already come into contact with their subsequent conquerors. Nard^ then, 
must have already had time to assume its European appellation (tables) be- 
fore it reached the Bosphorus — an important consideration.*** 

Nearly all English writers — from Hyde in 1694 to Wright 1859— just as 
they make ^^ tables** the same as backgammon, also regard backgammon as 
the modern representative of "nard.'* All that we have written makes us 
therefore ready — after the style of so many chess historians — for a series 
of conjectures, which is as follows: The existence of the game we are inves- 
tigating may be divided into three stages; 1. The period of twrJ, from its 
invention or earliest appearance in Southwestern Asia — according to one 
tradition in Persia — before A. D. 800, to its arrival in Europe (shall we say 
in Spain, or in Italy during the Arabic occupation of Sicily?) during which 
period, so far as we can learn, it was always played with thirty men, whose 
movements were made in accordance with the casting of dice on a board of 
twice twelve "points*'; 2. The period of tables^ from its arrival in Spain or 
Italy, coming from the Arabic world, to the XVUh century. In Europe it 
would find a more or less corrupted Latin tongue still in use in Italy, and, 
possibly existing there and elsewhere, the traditions of an old Latin game 
called tahnln or tabulae (mentioned under one of those names by Justinian in 
the Vlth century, and by Isidore of Seville in the Vlllh century. Perhaps the 
old native game itself was still lingering, being possibly the Roman dnode- 
citu scripta. Because, in this newly -landed game, each player had really 
his own "table,** with its twelve points, it took the name ot tabulae {Indus 
tabularum) whence "tavole** and "tables,** the dice used being called by a 
low Latin name, daiii. Unfortunately, during the early half of this period, 
beyond the facts that the game was played on a flat table (somehow divided 
inio two parts), and that the throw of the dice directed the movements of 
the pieces, we cannot, at present, give any detailed account of its method 
of play; in the latter part of the period we know much more about it. 3. 
The period of backgammon, (trictrac) from the XVIth century until the pre- 
sent time, played, like the ancient vard, with thirty men on twelve points, 
with the essential assistance of dice, and, like the mediaeval tables^ on a 
board divided into two parts, each with its two subdivisions. The change 
of name was not unlikely owing to the predominating popularity of a single 
variety of the game styled backgammon (or, on the continent, trictrac) aided 
by the fact that " tables *' began to be regarded as a generic term for all 
diversions whose movements were carried on upon a flat surface, or table, 

1^* Cbett can hardly bo rejArded as a game of great popularity In the n«w Greece, 
although the couutry^s later literature poiseiiaefl a inaoual of Ite practice, but among those 
who do play it the old Arabic-Byxantlne term i« atill employed, alternating with ffxaxt, one 
of the nnmeroua loan-words from the Italian (scaeehi) in dally nee In all the Qreek tovme* 



174 



CHESS IN IC BLAND 



and was no longor suitable for a special ** table -game/* After the comple- 
tion of the change from the Asiatic-European to the better developed and 
more attractive modern chess — a process virtually ended, say in 1475 — ta- 
bles was less and less practiced, and was nearly superseded, in higher cir- 
cles, by its revised and perfected rival Indian game. But the former was 
in time again revived, perhaps with prettier and more decorative boards — 
generally united with chessboards— with more neatly made dice-boxes and 
other attractive changes in the apparatus or in the mode of play, after 
which its new nAviiesi—backt/ammon^ trictrac^ pu/f— quite superseded its old 
one — only a shadowy form of which was left in the languages of tlio two 
Southern European peninsulas. It need not be said that to make all these 
hypotheses absolute certainties, a good deal of extended and careful research 
is needed. But on the whole we think that, after all the statements made, 
there is no longer much doubt that we may fairly be allowed to consider 
nard-tables-backgaiiimon as one continuous development, constituting the 
story of a single intellectual outgrowth during some 1300 or 1400 years of 
existence. 

The variation of the problem which remains unsolved and possibly un- 
solvablc, is the light in which we are to consider the old Roman game« duo- 
decim scripta^ the twelve-line diversion, which so many investigators have 
declared to be identical with the modern backgammon. Is there Teally any 
historical connection between the two? 
Did yiard reach Rome at a very early 
(lay by some mysterious route — by 
means of traders, or wanderers, or by 
the slow process of tribal contact, and 
taking a now name become natural- 
ized? Or did an original Latin or 
Etruscan or Pelasgic game make its 
way to the lands beyond the Tigris, 
and be there re-christened rwrd i Or 
did the duodecim scripia die with impe- 
rial Rome, or slumber, half- forgotten, 
until its Oriental congener reached the Italic shores— so like in form to the 
Roman amusement that its arrival was virlually a revival of it? Wo havo 
spoken (p. 122, iiote) of a remarkable public^ation by one of the most remark- 
able scholars of our day, Doiiienico Coinparetti, being an essay upon an 
ancient Roman mirror, having on its reverse the graceful figures of two 
youths engaged al the game o{ duodecim scripta. "We reproduce here (fig. 17) 
the table as there represented, but without the figures beside it. We have 
already noticed tliat no men arc visible on the table. In the complete design 
the male figure at the left has his left arm raised with the hand extended^ 
palm upwards, and nearly open, but as if it held some small object, or 
objects, not nuite visible. The right hand points to the lines on the board 
and is resting just above them. Comparetti seems to think that the eleva- 
ted hand holds the dice preparatory to throwing them, while the lower one 
indicates to the fair player opposite that the game is about to begin. It 
will be seen that the board has twelve lines, ^vith an open space around 
them just inside the board^s margin, that is to say that the scheme is not 
unlike that of tables-backgammon, except that here the twelve points formed 




Flsr. 17. 



STIiAY NOTES 175 



by the ends of the lines on each side begin at the centre of the board 
and run towards the margin, whereas in backgammon they start from the 
outer margin of the board, on either side, and run toward the centre. Compa- 
retti likewise suggests that the men are absent because the game has not yet 
commenced. Whatever may bo the interpretation of this notewortliy relic 
of antiquity, it is satisfactory that we have at length some trustworthy testi- 
mony as to the exact shape of the apparatus used in this old Roman game. 
Whether it helps to establish any real relation to the game we have been 
treating of at such length, is another matter — one to be decided hereafter. 

An event which was not without its influence upon the old " tables,'* as 
upon some other games of its period, particularly those into which chance 
largely entered, was the introduction into use of playing-cards, a form of 
gaming in many respects both more convenient and more attractive than 
that afforded by dice. This new medium of diversion contributed, doubtless, 
on the one hand, to the decadence of 'Mables,'' and on the other, perhaps, 
led to the modification of the principal form of the ancient table-game, and 
especially to its change of name— until it Anally assumed the title, in En- 
gland, of "backgammon'' and, in France, of ** trictrac." Nor is it impossi- 
ble that the same incident had something to do with the debasement of the 
morris game, and its banishment from court circles to become the amuse- 
ment of rude rustics. Cards, manufactured from cotton, wore pretty surely 
known in Spain as early as the last quarter of the Xlllth century, and very 
soon thereafter in Italy; their use had already spread to France, Germany 
and Holland in the latter half of the XlVth ; and in 1403 their introduction, 
as well as that of chessmen, into England was forbidden (act 4. Edward IV, 
IV, 1) for the benefit of the home-made articles; and a play of 1400 has the 
phrase, "Using cardes, dice and cupes smalle." Chess, as a game of pure 
skill, suffered less from the popularity of cards, in spite of the fact that the 
new mode of diversion owed many of its features to the Indian game, hav- 
ing to do, like that, with kings, and queens and knights (knaves), and 
having both its figures of high degree (the court cards, or, more properly, 
the "coat cards'*) and its pawn-like forces of low degree (the spot-cards). 

Allusions to the medijeval game of tables are perhaps more frequent 
in the old French than in any other early literature. In looking at the 
practical side of modern backgammon, its assumed successor, we shall 
therefore begin with France. We give, in a foot-note, a brief account of an 
interesting and elaborate French XVII Ith century manual of the game by 
Soumille, in which we And how Utile is the difference between the trictrac 
of then and now.^s* The most pretentious modern treatment of the game, in 

^^ Ono of the notable books in the scanty literature of backg^aminon is that of the abbe 
Soamille, « Le grand Trictrac,*' the second edition of whieh was pabllshed at Avignon 1756 
(8°, pp. 4S8). Both its sober style and its neat typography make it an attractive Tolame. 
It contains many scores of positions on diagrams, which occur between two players, classic- 
ally denominated Cloris and Damon. The latter ha« the lower part of the board (or that 
nearest the reader), equivalent to the position given to "white" In chess treatises, while 
Cloris is supposed to sit opposite, or at the upper side of the board (like *' black"). The 
technical terms are very fully cxplaiiood, though no alliulon to the history of the game Is 
anywhere made. Kach of the four divisions, having six polnla. Into whieh the board Is 
divided. Is called a jan ; each player thus has two Jan«; the one In which the men are plied 
up at the commencement of the game Is called the petit-janj the other the ^rand-jan. Va- 
rious positions brought about by different throws of the dice are likewise styled ^an* — the 
jan d9 rencontre, for Instance, being two exactly similar (or cqaal) first throws by the two 



'*^ CHESS J\ ICELAXD 



all its varieties', wjtli which we are familiar, is to be round in a French 
work, the "Grange cncycloi-edie des jeux" edited by Moalidars — a book 
already cite'l— in it.s cliainer. -Le trictrac** <!., pp. 142-189). This treatise 
atteiijpt.s to portray and explain no fewer than eleven games playedL, with 
greater or less divergencies, on the backgammon-board. At the outset, its 
coijipiler indiil^'es in a little pliiloloiiy. literature and philosophy of a char- 
acter not Very profound, but which we will cite in its entirety : " JYictrac 
would appear xo have been known to t!ie ancients, if it be true that its name, 
instead or beini: derived onomatopoetically from the noise made by the dice 

I'iaytrs. vehiU- tLire are tLe Jan qui ne ytufyjan de deux tmhUt, }•.% dt wdUaw aad eo«lre-/fla 
til tii.':cat. 'Ih« j.oiuts AiteraaU'lT bUck «nd whiw, of Ui« botrd at* Ujlmd Jlickma or fnwtt; 
tlje LoU's iu tLv rrai..c- uf tbe board for raarkiDg ganea am trout, and Ibe movabla p«c« oaad 
In ihein, JiehcU, 'J be ii;i.u or pitces are knowu a-i JiiaiM, or, aeeordiog to till* aathor, aOMO- 
time* as tablet, the boari leiu^ the tahlier. A pciut on wbich two men aro atandlBf la a 
eaze (ca««= b«u«c). and onu on wLich there it only one, a dcnij-ean; tbe aaao term ia ftp- 
plied to certain |iotfitioii«. and wu have ihe ca;< du diabU^ east de I'^cotfer, c«c« tf ■ dmq aad 
to on : eazcf altertie* (or raicau) is a title gireu to a potitioa In which eTerj allormato polmt 
of the board in void of men. A /au*»€ cure is a position brought about by orronooaa or Ir- 
reiftilar play, and has iu i-enaltius, as do such errors at chess. Ecole It a nagloot to OMko 
or mark poiiiti, and to send one u l\'coli is vrhen the opponent, obsarrlng tho oalaaloa, 
A'l'Ia liie uncounted points to his own score. The notation employed Is based on tho iadloa- 
tion of the 24 jllchea of the board by the 24 chnracters of the alphabet ineb aa U shown 
ill >i?. 10. Doublett. iu throwing the dice, havu the customary special titlet aa : two 
amhet-atf or bezat ; two deuces, tout ha deiix (sportively tout Wt ditux); two trcye, 
(jciitin^'iy, lanterHet); two fours, carme» ; two fivos. quintMi double tixos, sonars. Tho 
luay be etiLcr a jr'en ordinaire, iu which each player li limited to his own aide of tho board, 
uioviug his men only from m to a, or frum 7. to n ; or a Jeu dt retour (a true **backcaiD* 
mou." that in the ijame and bael). iu which Cloris continues to move until the eoaaten aro 
pushed from m (by way of Z. k, i, i&c) clear to 7 , or through both tablet ; wUJo Dauoa 
plays his from n (by way uf o, jt, q) to n. In beginning a game each player placet hlo 
15 men in 3 or 1 jiileK uu the point in one of tho outside extreme eoruers of hit tide of tho 
board ; the point then receives tho uanii- of the talon, and the Jan In which the talan la 
becomes the pelit-Jun ; the talon and petit-Jan of tho adversaries are exactly oppoalte oaeh 
other; for instance, if the counters of Clorlt arc placed on m, that point Is the faloa and 
jtetit'Jan of Damun. The throws of the dice may bo utilised to move either one or two moa ; 
thus, with tbe throw dcuce-trey, one nian may be moved to a second point and anotbor to a 
third, or a single counter may be moverl to a tiftlt point. At tho end of the roluioe aro 
many pofcltions similar in character to ]iroblenis at chess, intended to indicate the proper 
pielhod of play under certahi circuuirtxoces. The book has, In all, nearly three hnndrod 
diagrams, illustrative of gamei or exceptional ponitious. I'hote are apparently not ongrarod 
but made up of backt;au)m'ou type, coiupofed of pieces representing the four sides or rime of 
the board (having the tioua or huleti, white on blark); black and white points having ono 
to three white or black men on them, or each suppurting one of the dice to be placed whoro 
no point)) with men are needed, in order to show the throw Just made and now to be played* 
and little circles to be placed near the small ends of the points to represent tbe teore-poiota, 
and HO uu. The copper|)late froutlipiece of the volume pictures a game of backgammon on 
a very large board, placed ou a handsome table iu a fine apartment, the playeri being a 
gentleman and lady, with a t-econd geniloniau as a sjieciator. It is not knowu whether 
iSoumille was the first to ^ivu the names of (;lorIs and Damon to tho two supposed playara 
iu treatises on trictrac^ but tho tradition is still su far powerful that Moulidars bestowt on hia 
imaKinary combatants their initials (U and D). Tho author gives a brief description (pp. 391-S) 
of trictrae a ierirc. ami (pp. 39>(-3) of a much simpler variety to be played by four or Ave 
players, styled courir la loulc 8omo Hpace is diivoted to a discussion of the potflible eoui- 
binailons of the dice (pp. 300-316). Theru are nomo f>inf,'ular technical teruit, indleatiay 
ph.'v:>es of the game, and which aro im w disused, such as Afargot la /endue and paeeagm d« 
punt. As a specimen of iSouniille's slyN; we cite his notice of a method of winning ttill Iu 
vogue (pp. 3*J0-301): "(iugner une paitie granfle-hredoiiille c'est niarquer II trout d« aalte, 
tandis que I'autru jodeur u'en mnrque au«'uu. Lo premier qui commence 4 marqner ua on 
plusitfurt trout, u'exrlut pas i'auirc du droit de gagner grandc-bredoiiilltf ponrvu quo re 



STRAY NOTES m 



and the counters, had its origin in the two Greek words xpi^ xpax6<;, which 
signify thrice difficult to play and to utiderstand. The abbd Barth^lemy in 
his * Voyage d'Anacharsis,' claims that it was practiced at Athens. It is 
proved that the Romans knew it. They called it duodetia scripta, or Indus 
XII scriptorum, as is demonstrated by Saumaise [Salmasius, 1588-1658], in 
a special treatise, in which he compares the ancient with the modern trictrac. 
But in its progress this game has undergone an infinitude of changes be- 
fore arriving at the point where we now And it. At first, probably its de- 
votees played the kind which we call dames rabattues^ which is of great 

dernier faue 12 trout de suite sans Interrnptlou. L« grande-bredoaille ne so paye qa'autant 
qu'on en est conrenu au commencement du jeu : alors eelui qui fait IS trous de suite gagno 
double enjeu, c*est-4-diro, autant que sMl gagnolt denx parties. Le premier qui commence 
k marqucr, n*a pas besoln de di«tinguer son fiehet; mats lorsquMl est interrompu par le 
second, celui-ei met nne marque k son flcbet, qu'on appelle erara</e, c^ost nn Jetton perc6, 
Ott un niorceau de papier, qui sert k constater la suite noninterrompue de ses trous. Cela 
s*appclle entrer m hredoUilU, & quand le premier peut k son tour Interrompre )o second, 11 
lui 6te la cravatte^ & alors nl Pun ui I'autre n*ont rfcn k prdtendre sur la grariiU bredoiiiile. 
On ett en usage dans certains pats de faire payer un enjeu Sc demi 4 celui qui ne passe pas 
l0 pont, c*eit-4-dire, qui ne fait pas au moins 7 trous avant que Tautre ait aohevd le tour. 
Mais la grande-bredoilille, comme le passage du pont^ dependent absolnment de la convention 
mutuulle des Jotteurs au commencement du Jeu.*' Tbe abb£, Bernard Laurent Soumille, was 
of Villeoeuve-les-ATignons. He invented some agricultural implements, especially a sower, 
which he described in a pamphlet, and wrote a treatise on losing and winning at dice (*' La 
loterie Insldieuse, ou tableau giu^ral de tons les points taut k perte qu*k profit, qu'on peut 
faire avec sept d^.** Avignon 1773). His *< Grand Trictrac" was first published at Avignon 
in 1738, and wan followed by the edition of 1756, by a third of Paris 1766, and perhaps by 
others. A sketch of Soumille's life will be found in Barjavel's '* Diction naire blographlque 
du d^partement de Vaudnse'* (Garpentras 1841); be Is likely always to remain the classlo 
writer on trictrac, Barller than Soumille was a smaller French anonymous work, "Le Jen 
de trictrac, comme on le Joue anjonrd'huy. fCnrlchy de Figures. Rt d'nne Mithode tr^s- 
als^ ; pour apprendre de soy-m£me k JoQer ce Jou en perfeetlon. A Paris, Ches Henry 
Charpentler, . .. M. DC. XGVIII." {li^o, pp. 16S, besides IS unnumbered folion). This 
treatise, though far inferior to the detailed production of Soumille, is well-executed for Its 
time, and Is perhaps the first to givo illustrations of positions, which seem to be engraved. 
Of those there are six (pp. 67, 84, 104, 108, 111, 12S). This work was reprinted, mueh enlarged, 
five years later, under the title of *< Le Jeu du trictrac, cnrichy de figures Avee les Jcux 
Du revertier, du toute-table, du tourne-case, des dames rabatues, da plein, et du too. Beeonde 
edition. Itovu^, Corrig^e, et augmeutde. A Paris, Chez Henry Charpentier, . . . M . DCCI." 
{\i'^^, pp. 198+ 111, with SO unnumbered folios). In the oopy used by the present writer, 
the supplement (occupylug the second series of 111 pages, and 13 of the SO unnumbered folios) 
has this title-page: "Suite du trictrac, contenaut les Regies de Jeux du revertier, du toute- 
table, du tourne-case, des dames rabatues, du plain et du toe. Comme on les Jou6 [sic] 
aujourd'huy. A Paris. Chez Henry Charpentier, . . . M . D . G . ZCIX." None of tbe games 
enumerated on this second title-page were treated in the 1698 edition, but it will be seen 
from the date that the supplement was probably Intended for that first edition, having been 
printed a year later. The second edition contains tho six illustrations of the first and la 
the same order (pp. 67, 77, 95, 99, 102, 114), and no others. The chapters, in the main work, 
have been Increased from 17 to 90; while tho important part of the ''Suite" Is tho eleven 
brief chapters (pp. 40-62), devoted to the "Ragles du Jeu du toute-table," showing that tho 
old-fashioned English backgammon was then played in France precisely as in England. The 
historical portion added to the later issue Is contained in the new first chapter; we cite the 
paragraph containing It (pp. 1-S) : ** Je ne diray rien de I'antlquitS de ee Jeu, et Je n*en- 
tropreudray pas de decider si ee sout les Francois ou les AUemands qui en out est^ les In- 
▼euteurs ; Je sf;ay qu'il y a eu des gens qui ont donn^ cette gloire aux AUemands, et que 
pluslenrs antres I'ont attrlbue aux Francois: Mais Je crols que si Pon en Joge par eo qui 
nous paroist Journellemeut, Ton se d^termlnera facllement en favour des Francois, et que 
Ton conviendra qu'on JonC mieux ce beau Jeu k la Cour de Frauee, qu'i ceile de Vienne.'* 
From all this it may be s«en that ehauvinUme is no merely modern sentiment in France, 
|tnd that tho unknown author was not hampered by tradition. 



nS CHESi^ IN ICELAND 



simplicity, oflfering little scope for combinations ; next ca.mQ Jacquet, scarcely 
more complex. We may regard as somewhat later garanguet, and the game 
ot toute-table or gamon; and as coming last of all trictrac, made up from 
all the different table games, the invention of which appears to date from 
the XVth century. This last game has itself undergone modifications; and 
its rules were not definitely established until about the commencement of 
the reign of Louis XIV, at which time it was enthusiastically cultivated by 
persons of quality. Regnard presents us a player possessed of the demon 
of trictrac and makes him say : (a. 1, sc. IV) : 

• • . • Uue icoU inaiidite 

Mu coiite eu un iiioiuont donze trou» tout de SQitc ; 
Quo Ju snis uu gi-and chieu ! Parbleu, je to saurai, 
Maudit jeu de trictrac ! ou bien jo uo ]>ourrai. 

A little further on (a. 1; sc. X) the poet puts these lines into the mouth of 
a certain chevalier d* Industrie i 

.lo Biiis pour T0U8 801 vir. Kentilbomiiio auvurguac, 
Doctour daiiH tou8 lea jenx et luaitre do tiictrac ; 
Moil iiom eat ToxU-d'Bat, vicouite do J. a Ctue, 
Kt A'otrc acrvitcur, ponr terminer ma phrase. 



» Je sais dans uu trictrac, qnand 11 faut nn nonnez, 
(tlissor do8 d^a lieureux ou cbarg68 on pipes; 
Et qnand mon plein est fait, gardaiit mes avuutagos, 
.I'eu aubatitne auasi d'autres pnidontB et aagca. 
Qui n'offraui h (nou gr6 qno des aa k toua coups, 
Me font en nn iustant enfiler douzo trout. 

Je veux, par mou aavoir txtreuic, 

Que vons escamotiez nn d6 couiuio moi-n)6uie. 

The italicised words in these citations are terms used at backgammon. The 
poet, Jean Pran^'ois Regnard, lived between the years 1655 and 1709. The 
editor of the "Encyclopedic" thus continues: '*The changes which su- 
pervened in court manners at the end of the reign of Louis XIV led 
gradually to less practice of trictrac, which nevertheless still remains a 
favourite household game, and, in its modified form, known as trie trac n 
dcrire, is yet held in honour in many drawing-rooms. The Greek etymology 
of the word trictrac, if it were authentic, would not signify that the game is 
extremely complicated in its method of play ; it would mean only that, to 
be played well, it demands much presence of mind and quiet calculation." 
Mr. Moulidars is evidently no very profound Graicist. The huge Larousse 
cyclopaedic dictionary also has a historical reference to the game. x\fter 
mentioning its invention by the Persians it goes on to say "Mais il est certain 
que les anciens connaissaient des jeux analogues ou le trictrac lui-meme; 
tels etaient, entre autres, le diagramiamos des Grecs et le duodena scripta 
des Remains. On le trouve ddsignd, dans les auteurs du moyen Age, sous 
le nom du jeu de tables, qu'il porte encore aujourd'hui en allemand {brett- 
spiel), et en PortugaisOofi^o ^^ tabolas)/" The last statement is not wholly ac- 
curate so far as the modern German is concerned, brettspiel being generally 
employed as a generic term for all games played on a board. 

Not infrequent are the appearances of backgammon in the literature of* 
ilie French lands. As wo shall see, when treating of the technical vocabu 



STRAY NOTES ^9 



lary of trictrac, the game was known to Rabelais in the XVIlh century. A 
passage ascribed to the poet Villon in the same century, to which we shall 
also refer later on, contains the word tHctrac, but not as the denomination 
of a game. Francois de Bonnivard (b. 1496) — the original hero of Byron's 
"Prisoner of Chillon " — in his "Chronique de Genfeve'' (IV, 4), says that 
before the battle of Payia (1525) the Spanish and the French "se pour- 
menoient par sur le Piedmont et y jouoient au triqtie trac,"" Nearly of the 
same time is the occurrence of the word in Etienne Pasquier's "Recherches'' 
(1560) in a passage soon to be cited. The word is found in several early 
Latin treatises on games. Salmasius tells us that "prseter trictracum quem 
vocamus, alium etiam ludum cum tesseris et calculis in tabul& lusitare con- 
suevimus;'* he speaks also of what both French and English authors long 
called the ^* grand trictrac,'' saying "hodie in co trictraci genere quem 
magnum vulgo vocant;'' while Bulenger (1626) informs us that "apud nos 
hodie 12 linese, 24 [?J calculi, vocamus majore^n trictraciwi.'*' In the same 
way, many years before, Hyde shows himself familiar with the word, with- 
out giving it a Latin form, as when he comments on the extremely com- 
plicated character of French trictrac; ** Inter lusus ad tabulam, omnium dif- 
ficillimus est Gallorum trictrac, quem modo sibi peculiar! exercent.'' The 
essayist, La Bruy6re (1646-1696), in his *'Caractferes'* (1688), has an amusing 
description of a distracted backgammon player : " II joue au trie trac; il de- 
mande iboire, on lui en apporte : c'est a lui h jouer, il tient le cornet d'une 
main et un verre de Tautre, et, comme il a une grande soif, il avale les 
dds et presque le cornet, jette le verre d*eau dans le trictrac et inonde celui 
centre qui il joue." In a private letter Madame de Maintenon, the consort 
of Louis XIV, says "Mme. de Dangeau demandera, en baillant, un trtr-frac... 
voila comme on vit k la cour." This is in a communication to the due de 
Noailles, dated January 7, 1700. Some years before, Madame Desjardins, 
better known as Madame de Villedieu (1631-1683), allows us to catch a 
glimpse of the game in two countries as it were. She says, late in the 
XVIIth century, writing about Holland : **Nons jouions ensemble au revei'- 
quier, qui est le trie trac de ce pays-la." In a previous generation we find 
a minor writer (Etienne Tabourot, known as the seigneur des Accords, whose 
book was published in 1648) employing the word triquetraquer in the sense 
of a player of trictrac, reminding us of the Dutch tiktnkker, Voltaire says, 
in a latter datetl December 8, 1767: *'J'avance que ce peuple [les Indiens] 
dont nous tenons les <^checs, le triclrac... est malheuresement d*une super- 
stition qui eflfraie la nature." 

If we mistake not it was the Swiss littfy-ateur Bonstetten, who said about 
the beginning of the XlXth century : 

Mala lore qne soixante nns nona vicndront renfernier, 
n faat le triquetrac et les carten aimer. 

Another and a greater writer, who died nearly two generations since, Balzac, 
the admired of Thackeray, spoke of backgammon in less pleasant terms : 
"Le bruit du trictrac est insupportable k ceux qui ne savent pas cejeu, un 
des plus difliciles qui existent." The game has produced in France one or 
two singular phrases, such as that which characterizes an able player at 
backgammon as one who is able to abbatre bien du bois — the hois referring 
to the wooden men. We must leave other passages containing direct or 



180 CHESS IN ICELAND 



remote references to the game, or to the terms and phrases used by its play- 
ers, until we have given some account of the game itself as practiced by the 
French. 

The Moulidars manual describes, first of all, trictrac^ to which, as the 
principal form of backgammon in France, it devotes no fewer than thirty-five 
pages. This section is occupied first with the apparatus employed, then with 
the general method of play; afterwards follow sections on the dice and their 
possible combinations, on Vicole, on the jans, on the bredouiUe^ on privileges 
allowed under certain circumstances to the players, on the methods of count- 
ing and marking, on the value of the different coups; to these succeed a 
vocabulary of terms, the laws of the game, advice to the players, and there- 
after a complete game, recorded in detail and illustrated with notes and 
diagrams of positions. The apparatus of the game, we are told, consists of 
the board, the fifteen black and fifteen white men, the three bredouilles for 
marking the minor points, the two fichets, or pegs of ivory or wood, for 
marking the game points, and the two dice. 

Each player begins by placing his fifteen pieces in three piles, of five 
men each, on the ialon^ which is the first or starting point. The writer ob- 
serves that almost all the rules published at the present time state that the 
talon is the point on the board at the extreme left of each player. This is 
a grave error. It is the extreme left point for one player, and the extreme 
right point for his adversary, since it is necessary that the two talons should 
be opposite each other. If the play take place during the day, the board is 
to be opened near a window and the men are to be piled and placed on the 
side which is more remote from the light. That is to say, if the window bo 
at the left of one player and at the right of another, the first places his 
pieces on the first point to the right and the second on his first point to 
the left, in such a manner that the men of both parties are opposite the light. 
The pieces of one color are then moved in a direction opposite to that taken 
by the pieces of the other color; while, if the two players place their taloti^ 
both either at their right hand or their left, as other contemporary manuals 
explain, the pieces of both would move in the same direction, which would 
not produce the result desired, since each player is to make with his men 
the tour of the table, starting from his talon, and finishing at the point op- 
posite to it, that is at the talon of his opponent. If a game be played at 
night, then the talons are at the end of the board farthest from the lamp, or 
other principal light in the apartment. By agreement, however, the talons 
can be fixed, and the game begun at the other extremity of the board. Each 
player plays, in any case, through his own side of the board and then around 
into the side of his opponent. It will be seen (flg. 18) that the quarter of the 
board from 1 to 6, is called the petit Jan, and that from 7 to 12 the grand jan. 
In moving, according to the numbers thrown with the dice, the talon is not 
counted, so that if a six-throw is to be played it would go to the point 
marked 7. In deciding upon first moves, each player throws one die, and 
the player having the larger number of pips opens the game. The names 
given to the doublets by Moulidars are: double ace, ambesas, beset, or tous 
les as; and then in their order, double deuce; term or toumes; quateme or 
carme; quine; and sonnez. If a player fail to mark his points before again 
touching his men, his adversary adds the points to his own score, which 
action is called, as in Soumille*s time, envoyer son adversaire d Vicole. 



STRAY NOTES 181 



We are furthermore told, as an etymological guess, that the word Jan 
comes from Janus, "a Roman divinity having many faces, thereby symbol- 
ically designating the divers aspects in which trictrac may be viewed— the 
jan being a coup which may result to the advantage or the disadvantage of 
either side'' (another writer — it may be stated in passing — suggests its 
derivation from the proper name Jean, perhaps in its sense of "Jack''). 
These coups are eleven in number: the Jan de six tables on de trots coups: 
the Jan de deux tables ; the contre-Jan de deux tables ; the Jan de m^^as or 
Mds^as (written both with and without a capital initial); the contre-Jan de 
m^sSas; the petit Jan ; the grand Jan ; the Jan de retour : the Jan de rdcom- 
pense ; the Jan qui ne peut ; the Jan de rencontre. Most of these Jaw5 count 
in favor of the player, who, by the throw of the dice either may or must 
effectuate them (that is, bring about the positions indicated by their names); 
in some other cases they count in favor of his adversary. In order to under- 
stand what a, Jan of this sort is, we translate the descriptions of two : "The 
*jan of six tables,' or *of three moves,' is when, at the beginning of a game, 
a player is able to move six of his pieces by three casts of the dice, Ave to 
points 2-6 and one to point 7, called the sonnes point. It counts for four 
(minor) points for the player making it. The *jan de retour' is when one 
has occupied, by more than a single piece, each point in the adversary's 
first quarter of the board, called the petit Jan,'" Again, we learn that a 
player is said to be en bredouille when he makes twelve points before his 
adversary has made a single point. La grande bredouille is when the player 
has made two game-points {trous)^ his opponent having scored none (the 
bredouilles^ as the reader will recall, also signify the three round counters 
mentioned above, used to score the minor points as they are made); when 
twelve such minor or playing points have been made, the player scores 
them as one game-point, with his /ichet in the holes on the rim of his side 
of the board. 

We group together, without attempting to class them in their proper 
order, some other notable rules and particularities of trictrac. The player 
winning the first twelve points, or, which amounts to the same thing, scor- 
ing his first game-point (trou), is entitled to say whether he will "gooff" 
{s'efi alter), or whether he will "hold on" (tenir), that is, continue to play 
the game as it stands. In the former case, the points made by his opponent 
are wiped out (as are his own surplus points above the twelve demanded 
for his game-point), and the pieces of both parties are re-entered, as before, 
on the talon of each player in three piles. A renewal (reprise)^ that is, a 
second section of the partie, is then begun. If the winner of the first section 
does not declare his intention to "go off," then the play, after he has marked 
his trou, goes on, as previously, the defeated player keeping the points he 
has already gained, and the winner marking those remaining, if any, after 
he has used twelve to make his own trou. It is often difficult to determine 
whether the winner of the trou shall insist upon commencing anew, or 
whether he shall risk a continuation of the game from its existing position. 
If he consider the state of the game so favorable for himself that it outweighs 
the minor points already secured by the loser, and with which he will begin 
his scoring in the reprise, then he will decide to go on. Otherwise, he 
"goes off." As the game progresses, each combatant — a matter to which 
we allude elsewhere— must carefully watch the play of the other, since each 



182 CffESS IN ICELA ND 



reckons not only the points he himself makes, but also those which his 
opponent through carelessness fails to score. If a player declare himself in 
a position to make a "hit" (a situation in which ho might, by the rules of 
English backgammon, capture a man), his opponent must see that it would 
not be a false "hit" (a case of hattre a favcr). Such a false "hit" would be 
when his throw, say 6 and 3, might "hit the blot," if the numbers of the 
dice were played in combination (as 9), but which could not do so when 
played singly (as 6 and then 3), because both the third and the sixth point 
from the man to be moved are covered — that is to say, are each occupied 
by more than one hostile man, thus barring the removal of an adversary's 
man to either. Another peculiarity of scoring is that when a block of six 
covered points exists, and one player, being unable to pass it, cannot play any 
of his men, his opponent scores two minor points for each successive cast of 
the dice which cannot be utilized. 

We add the briefest possible definitions of the games, other than UHcirac^ 
which are played in Prance on the backgammon-board. The trictrac a ^crire 
is a game composed of a large number of points, so that the points cannot 
be marked by the pegs and trous^ and must therefore be written. Its rules 
differ very slightly from those of the ordinary trictrac, A modification of 
it is the trictrac a la chouette^ played by two persons against one, the one 
who is alone moving continuously to the end of the game, the other two alter- 
nately after having scored twice; another modification is the trictrac a toumei\ 
the players being likewise three, each playing for himself. In the beginning 
two combine against one, but the first one of the two who loses a point, that 
is makes an error, goes out, but apparently resumes his place, when one of 
the actual players loses two points. The one of the three first obtaining the 
score agreed upon, wins the game. A second prominent variety, garanguet^ 
is played with three dice. The men are entered at the beginning as in tric- 
trac. When two of the dice thrown are alike, (that is, form a doublet) they 
are played doubly (that is, as if they had been four dice, each with the same 
number of points); if all three dice at one throw are alike, that is, if they 
form a triplet, they are played three times. The jeu du toe is the tokkategli 
or tokkadille of the Germans. The pieces are placed as at trictrac; they move 
in the same manner. The marking is, in general, the same, but the game 
is only a short one — he who scores first twelve minor points winning it. 
The movements of the men appear to be limited to the petit jarij that is to 
securing the six points of that quarter of the board. Thejeii du plein is a 
variety of trictrac in which a player scores the game, having made a plein 
("full"), that is, having secured, by at least two pieces on each, every point 
in that division of the board known as the grand jan. In the jew du toe doub- 
lets do not count double, which they do in the jeu du plein. We are told 
that the title of the variety denominated revertier is derived from the Latin 
revertere meaning to turn, because the player causes his men to make the tour 
of the table, returning them into the division from which they started. Here 
the two players set the three piles of their men each on the extreme corner 
point at the left of his adversary. Their march is at first from the opponent's 
left to his right; having reached the extreme right corner of the opponent 
they pass on to and through the extreme left point of the player, and continue 
from his left to his right. One or two new terms are used in this game, but 
the rules, except as they concern the original placing of the men and the 



iiTRA Y NOTES 183 



course of their march, are very much the same as in trictrac. The next 
variety is known Sisjacquet, We must first observe that, contrary to the 
statement of Moulidars, Littr6 makes this to be the same as the ordinary 
English backgammon. ''Cost le meme," he says "que les Anglais nom- 
ment backgammon, et qu'en France on appelait autrefois toutes-tahles, parce 
que les joueurs placent, en commen<;ant, leurs dames sur toutes les tables 
du trictrac/' It may be that Jacquet was once styled ioutes-tables (lotUc- 
iable), but there is no doubt that the variety now so called is nearly or quite 
identical with our usual game. But to return to Moulidars. The men in 
jacquet are set as at revertier, A peculiar feature is that the men cannot 
be doubled upon any point until one of them has been made to pass through 
all four divisions of the board — this advanced piece receiving the name of 
the courier. To take him to his destination the player usually avails him- 
self of his first doublet. Having thus pushed forward his courier the player 
may then proceed by advancing the others, by establishing cases (that is, 
by securing points through placing at least two men upon them), or by 
barring the passage of his adversary. The men who are not able to reach 
the fourth division receive the name of cochontiets ; and a player left with 
a single cochonnct on his hands loses the game. The doublets are quad- 
ruplets (that is, double fives, for instance, count as twenty). A variety of 
jacquet is styled the jacquet de Versailles, and was invented to accelerate the 
game. Here, instead of multiplying the doublets by four, each number of the 
doublets thrown is multiplied by itself, thus double ace (one by one) is reckoned 
as only one; double two (two by two) gives to the player the right to play four 
points ; while double six (six by six) permits him to play thirty-six. There 
are one or two minor changes in the rules, otherwise the game resembles 
the xx^nzX Jacquet, The word Jacguet may, or may not be connected with the 
Spanish name of backgammon, chaquete — in regard to which question see 
the pages which follow. The next game, jeu detoute- table, differs essentially 
from trictrac, being the ordinary, old-fashioned English game of backgam- 
mon, as it has been played by the Anglo-Saxon race for the last three or 
four centuries— the men, of course, placed in the beginning as in the figure 
given later on, in the section relating to the game in England. Moulidars 
says: ** Le jeu de toute-table est a pcu pres oublid en France; mais il est 
encore trds repandu en Angleterre, sous le nom de backgammon.'' The Jeu 
de tourne-case, says the compiler, "is an original variant of trictrac, in which 
each of the two players has only three men which are to be moved until 
they are united on the last corner point, hence the name of the game — 
tourne [ternef] having signified three as an old technical term in games.'' 
The men are first placed outside of the board — the three of one player at his 
left, as they are to be moved [after duly entering each at the first point 
of the player's table?] one after the other to the corner of the second table 
which is at his right ; the other player puts his pieces at his right and has 
to play them to the corner at his left. In this way the men of the two 
players start from the same side and move in the same direction on opposite 
tables. If either player throws a doublet, it is counted only as one, that is 
a double six is treated as six. A singular law is that each player must 
advance his men in order, as they are not permitted to pass each other. If, for 
instance, a player's first move is three points, and at the second he has the 
right to play four points, he must move the same counter, since the second 



184 CHESS IN ICELAND 



cannot go beyond the first, nor the third beyond the second. Nor can they 
be placed on the same point, except at the twelfth or final point (the coin de 
repos). The course of the men is thus one of peril, since they are frequently 
captured by the enemy. A piece is captured when a piece of the adversary 
can be placed upon the point in the opposite board occupying the same po- 
sition and bearing the same number. To give an example, suppose that a 
player has a man on his seventh point, and that the adversary puts one of 
his men on his seventh point, exactly opposite that of the first player; the 
piece of the first player is captured, and the player must remove it ft'om the 
board, putting it in its original position, from which it must recommence its 
march. He who first unites his three men on the twelfth point gains the 
partie. If he do this before his opponent has brought a single man to the 
coin de repos he wins a partie doxMe, 

The final variety described in this French treatise , is styled les dames 
rabattues^ that is to say, the game of the ''unpiled men." It is one of the 
simplest of table -games, being one of pure chance. Its name comes from 
the fact that its players are obliged to ** bring down'' {rabaltre), from the 
piles in which they lie, one of their men after the other. Each player puts 
his fifteen men in the side of his board nearest the light, in six piles thus: 
two on each of the three points less lighted and three on each of the three 
points nearest to the separating bar (or the hinges) of the l)oard. There arc 
then throe piles of two each, and three piles of three each. A throw which 
cannot be played by a player may be played by his opponent, and he who has 
thrown a doublet retain^ the dice until he has thrown two differing ones. 
The first player casting the dice "brings down'' two men from those on the 
point indicated by the dice. This he does by lifting the top piece from the 
pile and placing it in advance of the pile on the same point, that is nearer 
the pointed end. Having thus "flattened out," or placed all his men singly 
on the points, he then proceeds to repile them again, in accordance with the 
casts of the dice, as they were before. He who succeeds in first doing this 
is the winner in this very artless game. 

The summarized account which we have given of the methods employed 
in trictrac^ the principal form of backgammon in France, shows that the game 
has undergone little change in that country during the last two centuries. 
It is, in every important respect, identical with the description which we find in 
the abb6 Soumille's treatise " Le grand trictrac," the first edition of which 
appeared in 1738. The older work, however, not only presents us a picture 
of the game in far greater detail, but is much more systematic in its ar- 
rangement and clearer in its language. The volume, except in its utter lack 
of historical information, is, in fact, one of the most comprehensive and in- 
teresting productions ever devoted to any game or sport. Its pages are almost 
wholly occupied with the single game called trictrac, although it describes 
briefly the trictrac d icrire, and a very simple diversion on the backgammon- 
board styled courir la poule, in which four or five players may take part 
(pp. .391-2). How far back this trictrac game goes, and how far it represents 
the most common variety of the medisBval "Ubles" it is, of course, not easy 
to decide. 

Three things will strike the English observer, as he becomes familiar 
witli the French trictrac, namely, that, in several characteristics, it differs 
widely from any kind of backgammon known to the Anglo-saxon world. In 



STRAY NOTES 185 



the first place, its method of counting consists in points gained by bring- 
ing about, with the help of the dice, certain particular positions; by pen- 
alties imposed on the adversary for errors and omissions, and by ability 
to attack (^'hit'') the weak points of the opponent. In the second place — 
and this has to do with the final peculiarity just mentioned — the French 
game admits of no captures. A player is not allowed to really "hit a blot," 
but only to put himself in the position of *' hitting a blot." In other words, 
he receives a certain number of points when he is able to capture an enemy's 
man standing alone on one of the points of the board, but he cannot proceed 
to actually efl'ect the capture. In the third place, the points to be scored, to 
which we have hitherto alluded, and which we have ventured to call minor 
points, are marked by three tally-men, of which one is in use by one player 
and two by the other at difl'erent periods of the game. Moves, positions, 
threats to capture and the like sometimes count more, when they are, or 
might be eftecled as a result of having thrown doublets. When these mi- 
nor playing-points amount to twelve or more, they form a major, or game- 
point, which is scored by means of a peg in one of the holes on the rim of 
the board, as we have previously explained. In the fourth place, a final no- 
ticeable dissimilarity between this French variety and the older English 
one consists in the fact that in the former the rfien are never ''thrown out" 
of the board, or in any way removed from it. When the peg, scoring the 
major points, has been advanced through a certain number of holes agreed 
upon, or through all the twelve holes on the one or the other side of the 
board, the game is ended, leaving all the men in the board. It will be seen 
from what wo have .said, that trictrac is an amusement demanding much 
closer attention than either of the usual English games. This partly arises 
from the necessity of keeping the score as the game proceeds, partly from 
the number of possible positions, through the attainment of which the score 
may be increased, and partly from the necessity of attending not only to 
the points made by one's own play, but to the points which one's opponent 
omits to make. 

To understand completely the philological character and relations of the 
word trictrac much further investigation is necessary. The word has more 
meanings than one, and it is difiicult to say which is the original sense. 
In old French it signified, we are told by one authority, both the noise of 
dice — for that reason becoming the name of a game played with dice— and 
the no'ii>e made by hunters to frighten up ducks and other birds. It was 
also employed in the sense of the French train, that is "suite," "attend- 
ants," ** equipage," "movement," and so on — Littrd citing the following 
as an illustration of this last signification: "M(^diter la patience de Dieu 
sur les peches des hommes, et considdrer le trictrac du monde d'aujourd'hui, 
qui est autant fou que jamais." This is from the letters (tome II., p. 421) 
of Gui Patin (1602-1672), arid the word has here apparently the sense of 
"goings-on" or "march" (possibly resulting from its use to imply noise or 
confusion). Trictrac also means what in French is called quinconce, a word 
which comes from the Latin quincunx {quinque unciae), and which in the 
Roman tongue means a copper coin marked by (five) points, or small balls, 
to represent its: value, being five-twelfths of the as. The French word quin- 
conce however denotes— more definitely speaking— an arrangement of ob- 
jects in relation to each other like the points, or circular "eyes," on the 

24 






186 CHESS IN ICELAND 



dice used in playing backgammon. It occurs in the technical phrase en 
trictrac^ applied to a plantation of trees, or other plants arranged in straight 
lines, but why such a phrase is used in arboriculture no French dictionai'y- 
maker has apparently been able to comprehend or ascertain. It comes, 
without doubt, from the resemblance of rows of plants, so arranged, to the 
lines of points on a backgammon-board. A similar phrase, en ichiquieVf is 
likewise employed by writers on the culture of trees— implying a distribution 
of plants in transverse lines like the squares of a chess-board. Another techni- 
cal meaning of trictrac^ used among hunters, is defined by Larousse, in his 
"Grand dictionnaire universel" {suh voce)^ as a "bruit fait par des chasseurs 
pour affaroucher les oiseaux aquatiqucs lorsquMls veulent les faire tombcr 
dans leurs pi^ges.'' Still another is as a name applied to an "Ancien moulin 
^ tabac manoeuvrd k bras," or, as it is defined, at greater length, by Littrd, 
as the "Noms de certains moulins pour le tabac, k vis de serrage et bride 
sup^rieure, qui 6taient manoeuvres par les hommes agissant directement k 
Textremit^ de leviers fix6s au sommet de Tarbre vertical de la noix.*' Fi- 
nally it serves as the vulgar name of two birds, better known in French 
as the "draine'' and the "traquet."' But all these last definitions have 
nothing to do with the game of backgammon; they only serve to show 
that the word triclrac, as the representative of a peculiar sound, is of wide 
extent and great age. As we have elsewhere remarked, a very early occurrence 
of trictrac (in the writings of Villon, or, one of his contemporaries, in the 
XV th century) seems to be in the sense of "noisily." From this, and other 
instances near that date, it would appear as if the word were already in use 
before its application to the game of backgammon, that is to say while the 
word "tables" was still the general term to denote the game, or an old form 
of the game. Originally, then, as we feel authorized to assume, trictrac was 
one of a class of vocables formed by duplication, cither through rhyme, with 
a difl'ering initial, like "hurly-burly," or through a change of vowel in 
the two elements, as "knick-knack" and "zig-zag." This class of words 
is a very large one, and has not yet been adequately nor very scientifically 
studied. Not all of them are onomatopoetic. Moreover, such words are 
often formed in conversation, and do not always find their way into the 
dictionaries, just as one might say, in a rapid description, "mish-mash," 
thereby meaning a confused mixture, or " crish-crash," as describing a 
confused breaking. In this view it might be more proper to say that, in 
one or more of the Romance languages, a word already in existence, in 
other senses, was applied to the game of "tables" when its old name fell 
into desuetude. Meanwhile all the linguistic authorities, copying the 
French etymologists, insist upon the fact that the word trictrac origi- 
nated as an imitation of the noise made in shaking the dice and casting 
them; one dictionary, that of Hatzfeld and Darmesteter (1900), goes even 
farther, and includes in this assertion also the noise of the pieces as 
they are moved from one point to another, or piled upon each other 
on the same point {des dames qu'on case). It is to be noted, on the 
other hand, that in the mediaeval game the dice were not shaken, but 
thrown from the hand, a fact already hinted at, and also that the noise 
made by placing the counters on a point or upon each other is certainly 
very slight. Earlier in these pages, too, we have suggested that the com- 
ing into use of new-fashioned dice-boxeS| making the noise of the dice 



STRAY NOTES 187 



more observable, may have had something to do with the modern French 
name of the game. It is not unlikely that the first statement, asserting the 
onomatopoetic origin of the word trictrac^ is that found in the following 
passage from the "R^cherches de la Prance'' (1560, VIII,'p. 671) of Pasquier: 
**I1 ne ftiut pas obmettre nostre jeu de trie et trac; ear, s'il nous plaist 
considerer le son que rapportent les dez estans jettez dans le tablicr, il n'est 
autre que le trie et trac;"" but this implies the previous use of the word in 
its literal sense. Nor is the meaning of "noise" or "confusion," pure and 
simple, as an interpretation of the word trictrae uncommon. Molifere says 
in his comedy of "L'Etourdi" (1658, iv, 5): 

Puis, oatre tont cela, vonB faisiez nons la table 
Un bmit, nn triqntetrae de pieds insupportable. 

The phrase, **I1 alloit son beau pas trictrae,^' credited, as we have said, 
either rightly or wrongly, to Villon, the XVth century poet, is another in- 
stance. We also find the same signification in Italian at an early date. The 
dictionary of Tommaseo so explains it, and presents us with the differing 
forms trie trac, trich track and trieche tracche, but states that the two latter 
forms are provincially applied to an irresolute person (ehi non conclude mai 
nulla); while Alessandro Piccolomini (1508-1578), in his manual of advice as 
to the proper conduct of young ladies in love, styled *' La Raffaella, ovvero 
della creanza delle donne" (Venezia 1574), says of certain persons that they 
"vanno per la strada con una certa furia, con un trich track di pianellette, 
che par ch'oUe abbiano il diavolo fra le gam be." There is an old Italian 
conversational adage, now or never used, which was applied to persons of 
undecided character: "Siamo sempre sul iriccke traceke, e non si sa che par- 
tite prendere." On the other hand, the valuable "Supplemento a'vocabolarj 
italiani" (1857) of Gherardini treats us to a passage in which several games 
are enumerated: "Abbiasi la cricca, 1i sbirri.... il flusso, ed il trentuno, le 
donne, il tricchetraeche o il dormiesti" drawn from the humorous production, 
** Capitolo del gioco della primiera, co'l commento di messer Pietropaulo da 
San Chirico" (Roma 1526), the real authorship of which is uncertain. In cit- 
ing this, Gherardini condemns the Italian orthography trie-trae, styling it 
"pessima lessigrafla. " 

The recent "Diccionario etymologico da lingua Portugueza," by Adolpho 
Coelho, h&B triquetraque in anetv sense; explaining it first as '* backgammon" 
(o Jogo do gam&o), he afterwards says that an old signification of the word 
was what the Americans call "squib" or "fire-cracker." This meaning occurs 
likewise in Spanish. The lexicon of Delfln Donadiu y Puignau— a work 
entering under each vocable the Catalan form — first gives the literal mean- 
ing of triquetraque (or tricktrack, as written in Catalan) as a noise like that 
of repeated irregular blows, as well as the blows themselves (**ruido como 
de golpes repetidos y desordenados, 6 los mismos golpes"), and then follows 
it with the secondary sense of "fire-cracker," describing that article fully: 
"Papel con p61vora, liado y atado en varies dobleces, de cada uno de los 
cuales resulta un tirillo, peg^ndole fuego por la mecha que tiene en uno de 
sus extremes " (but in Catalan this has another name). There is a Spani«)i 
phrase derived from the expression ot suddenness of sound — a cada iriqui- 
traque ("at every moment"). The lexicographical work mentioned does not 
cite the word as having the signification of '' backgammon."" 



188 . CHESS IN ICELAND 



As to tictac, Littrd explains this to be an onomatopoetic expression for 
a snapping noise resulting from a regulated movement, citing the phrase, 
"Le tictac du moulin" and the following quotation from the "Baron d'Al- 
bikir" of Corneille (iii. 5) : "Sans cesse aupr^s de vous lecoeur me fait tictac."' 
Scheler, treating trictrac as a "mot de fantasie,'' regards tictac as a more 
ancient form, and follows this assertion with the usual explanation, "ono- 
matop^e iMe du bruit que font Ics dds lances sur le damier/' But Littr^ 
has nothing to say in regard to tictac as a game. Whether it be a corrupt 
abbreviation of trictrac^ or whether it be older than that word, it is certain 
that it was used to express backgammon, or a form of it, in many languages 
— in some even more frequently than its longer congener. This was the case 
especially in Dutch. The orthography differs, as does that of its variant, so 
that we have tichtack, tiktak and, in Portuguese, tiquetaque. The Century 
dictionary looks upon tick-tack as the legitimate English form, and adds 
"hence by variation trick-track.^' In general, tictac and trictrac are to be 
regarded as having, so far as backgammon is concerned, the same signifi- 
cation. 

Of varieties of the game other than trictrac at present played in France, 
one of the most notable is that called the (jeu de) toute-tablCy equivalent to 
our most common and oldest existing English form of backgammon proper, 
which in German, in later treatises, is known as gammon. This, as the 
reader will remember, is believed to be the table-game appearing in King 
Alfonso's list as todas tablas. For some reason it has been for many centuries 
the favorite variety in all English lands. A differing sort, entitled rcvertier^ 
is also a wide-spread variety. In the XVIIth century "Compleat Gamester'' 
it is styled verqnere, and is there said to be "originally of Dutch extraction, 
and one of the most noted diversions among the Hollanders." The former 
German title was verkehren^ but in modern treatises the French name is 
employed. There is in the French a second name, now generally disused, 
reterquier, probably an echo-word from the German verkehren. In Holland 
the name is verkeer. As to the Scandinavian languages, the German term, 
or a corruption of it, is used in all the older manuals, but forhoering occurs 
in Danish. The name of one French variety, garanguet, is found, separately 
entered, in no French dictionary, etymological or otherwise. The word has 
been transferred to German by later writers on games. The simple game of 
les dames rabbatues has long been known in England, occurring not only in 
the "Gompleat Gamester," but even in Hyde (II, pp. 36-37). It, or some form 
nearly identical, seems to have been likewise known in France in old times 
as renette, the early dictionary of Cotgrave (1611) translating it "a game like 
doublets or queen's game." Hyde considers that the word is properly rei- 
nette^ since Salmasius makes note of a game which he calls ^^reginula vulgo 
regineta." 

The lexicographers who treat the word Jacquet (rarely written jaqu£t) 
unite in deriving it as a diminutive/rom the proper noun Jacques, in its 
meaning of "lackey " (French laquais)^ from which comes likewise the English 
"jockey" with a similar sense. They do not however assert, although they 
imply it, that in the meaning of a "jeu analogue de trictrac," as Hatzfold 
and Darmesteter define it, its etymological origin is the same. The word 
has been introduced into Italian as giacchetto. It would seem that it must 
have a connection with the Spanish chaquete (backgammon) alluded to here- 



STRA Y NOTES 189 



after, the orthography of which is sometimes given in the dictionaries as 
jaqueU which according to Donadiu y Puignau is the Catalan form; both 
are used by Brunet y Bellet (see in "El ajadrez/' pp. 143, 254), but that may 
arise from the fact tliat the learned author is a Catalan. It is possible that 
the word, and tho game which it represents, may go much further baciv in 
Spanish. In the list of games treated by King Alfonso, under the general 
heading of "tables,'' there is one variety styled UiqueL The list is accessible 
only in the pages of Van der Linde, in which there is at least one slight 
error. Why may not laquet be an erroneous transcription of an old form 
representing chaquete or jaquet f No Spanish etymologist suggests any 
etymology for chaquete. Another of the different kinds o( tf-ictrac mentioned 
by Moulidars is the **jeu de toe." This may or may not be the same as 
toccndiglio, Scheler gives the word toe as a verbal substantive from toquer, 
an older form of toucher. Littre cites toe as an **onomatop^e d'un bruit, 
d'un choc sourd," and shows that it is used, as a reduplication, ioctoc^ by 
Perrault, Madame de Genlis and others, in an effort to express repetition 
of sound. 

There is, as the reader will already have perceived, much confusion in 
the names given to the many varieties of backgammon. Nor is a variety in 
one language always represented by the proper and equivalent name in 
another. With his usual acumen Hyde (II, p. 35) notices this fact when he 
remarks: "sed iste non est unus idemque lusus apud omnes gentes;'' and 
even fln<Is divergencies in different parts of the same country, saying that 
*'apud nos nomen eundem lusura notat secundum diversas Anglijo provin- 
cias rerum denominationes aliquantulum variantes.'' 

A whole chapter might be written on the French technical terms used 
in playing trictrac. 0( Jan we have already said something. It has been 
transferred to other languages, although sometimes with a somewhat dif- 
ferent signification. It is remarkable that tlie "Compleat Gamester," early 
in the XVIIlth century, in its account of " Verquere,'' which represents the 
French variety of backgammon, revertier^ has the technical word ** John,*' 
which is even used as a verb, ** to John '' one's opponent, while in its no- 
tice of the '* grand tricktrack " game it talks of " Gens de retour, or Back- 
Game." Whether these citations throw any light on the origin or general 
use of Jan is questionable; they may merely result, the first from a desire 
to anglicise the word, or both that and the second from ignorance of 
French orthography. The late French dictionary of Hatzfcld and Darme- 
steter says that the etymology of Jan is uncertain, but that it^is "peut-dtre 
du nom propre Jean"— abandoning the Janus hypothesis as evidently of no 
value. Jan occurs as early as tlie time of Rabelais (d. 1553), for he says: 
" L'on diet que le Jan en vault deux." The definition of the lexicographers 
just cited is a **coup par lequel un joueur perd des points, ou en fait perdrc 
a I'autre," which is concise enough. The etymologist Scheler omits the 
word. Littr6 enumerates all the Jans and contrejans, (1-10), as we have 
seen, and then notes the broader 'technical meaning of the word: "Par 
extension, on a donn^ le nom de Jan aux parties de trictrac ou cesjans ont 
lieu: on dit *le petit jan,' Me grand jan,' Me jan de retour,' pour la pre- 
miere partie [of the tables], la seconde, et enfin la premiere de I'adversaire.** 
The best French-English lexicon, that of Fleming and Tibbins, translates 
Jan by itself, thus showing that the term must have been in use in Eng- 



1 90 CHESS IN ICE LA ND 



land, and renders petit jan by *' left hand table," grand Jan by " right hand 
table" and Jan de retoiir by ** outer table/' No dictionary endeavors to 
explain the derivation of M6s4as {mesias) in the name of the Jan de mdz^as. 
The fact that it is frequently written with a capital M would seem to indi- 
cate that it is a proper name; but the termination -as (meaning "ace") leads 
us to believe that it is a compound, and the definition of the term appar- 
ently supports this idea: Le jan de m^s^as *'a lieu quand, au d^but d'une 
partie, on a pris son coin de repos, sans avoir aucune autre dame abattue 
dans tout son jeu, et quand on amene ensuite un ou deux as/' Perhaps it 
is a corruption of " le jan d'ambesas,"' signifying the "jan of two aces." 
Talon is the ordinary French word for *'heel" or "heel-piece;" hence it 
signifies the extreme point of the board. The term bredouille, is generally 
confined to trictrac. It has been formed from the verb bredouiller, to ** pro- 
nounce rapidly," to "sputter." It is defined by Littrd thus: "Marque in- 
diquant qu'on a pris de suite tous les points qui ferment un trou ou tous les 
trous qui font la partie, sans que Tadversaire ait marqu^ ou des points ou des 
trous. La bredouille des points se marque avec un double jeton, quand 
Tadversaire a pris quelques trous au commen^ant de la partie, 2** Tavan- 
tage qui en resulte, qui est que les trous ou la partie sent gagn^s doubles." 
The following phrases are cited: Petite, grande bredouiUe; avoir la bredouille: 
Hre en bredouiUe; perdre la partie bredouille. Cotgrave renders bredouille 
into English as "lurch." As to the term plein at trictrac^ Littre defines 
the phrase "faire son plein" as signifying couvrir de deux dames les six 
fleches d*une des tables^ and cites "Le joueur " (I. 10) of Rcgnard: "Et quand 
mon plein est fait, gardant mes avantages." Other phrases are: "conserver 
son plein," "tenir son plein," "rompre son plein." 

We have enumerated elsewhere (see p. 180) the modern French forms of 
the names given to the dice doublets. From the old French forms the JCng- 
lish names are derived, as well as those in some other tongues. This 
seems to indicate a peculiar and long prevalent taste for dice-games in the 
Gallic race. Ambes as is Xllth century French, remotely from the Greek 
S^<ptt> and directly from the Latin ambo (old French ambe, oven in Its earliest 
age a term of play)— «rw6o meaning "two," "both," "double," "dual." 
In English the term likewise occurs in the Xllth century. We have it in 
the old production, "The Harrowing of Hell" (1300) in the lines: 

SUll be tboa, Satbanas ! 
The ys fallen ambet cm9. 

The lexicographer and grammarian, Robert Sherwood, has in 1650 "to cast 
ambes ace ; " and the philosopher Hobbes, a contemporary of Sherwood, has 
(1656) "casting ambs-ace." Another word for "double ace" is beset (some- 
times bezet^ and not unusually besas)^ which Littrd defines as " deux as 
amends d'un coup de d^s." Its etymology is bis (two) and a.9, bis being a 
Latin corrupt form of duis (twice). Ternes^ generally in the plural, is from 
tho Latin temus (triple). It occurs in a poet as early as Villon: 

Abiia6 m'a et faiot entendre 
D'ambeaaa qae ce fosaent temes. 

The word is used (tema) both in Spanish and Proven^l. Double fours in 
French is carrne, formerly written in the plural carmes, and still so cited in 
the dictionary of the French academy. It is a corruption of cames, used 



STRA Y NOTES 191 



in the time of Mdnage (1613-1692), and is from the Latin quatemus (-' by 
fours," from the Latin quatuor). Quine, according to Littrd, is a trictrac 
term signifying a ** coup do dds qui am^ne deux cinq." It is as old as the 
Xllth century, occurring in the "Brut" (see the present volume, p. 76), a 
French poem of that period : 

£t deux et deax giettant es cames 

Bt ambes om et le tiers UrntM, 

A la foito giettant qtiineM 

Et aennet ; et en font grant eigucs .... 

a passage of interest from the number of dice-terms employed. Very pecul- 
iar is the term for double sixes, sannes (pronounced in one syllable san, 
but written also sonnes and sofitiez). It is from the Latin sent, an adjective 
meaning "six by six," "which are six." It is employed in an ingenious 
passage of "La fille capitaino" (1. 9), a poem by Antoino Jacob called 
Montfleury (1640-1685): 

De cea gneux faiu6antB, 

Dont le sort est 6crit sur les os d'un cornet 

Dout lo8 coniraaudenrs sont los cannes et Ics sannet 

Et qni lout chez Fridor toutes loura curavanes. 

It is needless to say that "les os d'un cornet" arc the dice; Fridor was 
the proprietor of a " maison de jeu " at Paris about 1671. It is interesting 
to compare with these the Italian names of the doublets. They are ambassi 
(more modern, bambini); duini (duetti); terni; quaderni; quini (singular 
sometimes china); and sena (also dodid). 

In the Iberian peninsula the story of tables-backgammon begins witli 
the extraordinary codex, still preserved in the Escurial near Madrid, which 
was compiled at the instance of the Spanish king Alfonso X, during the 
latter half of the Xlllth century. This still partly inedited manuscript treats 
of chess, of pure dice-games, of "tables" in its many varieties, of some 
abnormal table-games, and, if wc may believe Van der Lindc ("Quellenstu- 
dien," pp. 277-8), also of several different forms of the morris game. The 
dozen or more various sorts of " tables" form the third book, or division, 
of this comprehensive treatise. Many of these diverse kinds of backgammon 
have come down to our own times, and not a few of them have even preserved 
the names given to them in that early age. Indeed, if we wish to assure 
ourselves of the vitality of human amusements, we have but to compare the 
later manuals of games "played within the tables," with this treatise of Al- 
fonso, and with such codices as that " Do ludis tabulariim" now in the British 
Museum, which was composed less than a hundred years after the work of the 
Spanish monarch, and which we have printed at length in preceding pages. 
We must repeat that our knowledge of every portion of the old manuscript 
so long and so carefully guarded in the Kscurlal library, except of its early 
sections relating to chess, is very slight indeed, A transcript of the unknown 
portions is, of course, essential to a knowledge of our game in old Spain. 
Nor have we been able to obtain information much ntore full in regard to 
the later practice of the game in the peninsula. There may possibly be 
modern Spanish manuals of games, sueh as exist In great numbers In other 
lands, in which they are known under the title of " Acad<5mieH dcs Jeux "and 
the like; but we have been unable to dUcover any publieation of this class 



192 CHESS IN ICELAND 



in the Castilian tongue. Dictionaries and cyclopedias have been our only 
sources; and these are, naturally, of the most unsatisfactory character. *53 

We find in Spanish two words representing the French trictrac and the 
English backgammon. These are tahlas reales and chaquete. In some of the 
lexicons, if we search for the former term, we are told that it is " a game 
similar to chaquete; " if we look for the latter, we are informed that it is "a 
game resembling tablas reales,'' The former denomination is, of course, the 
tahulce of the early middle ages, still keeping its plural form, and with tlic 
addition of the adjective reales^ which may signify either that it was considered 
to be a court game par excellence^ or that it was the principal, most important 
and best of the varieties of backgammon, just as the French speak, with a 
similar significance, of " le grand trictrac.'' The exact origin and meaning 
of the other name {chaquete) is, as has been hinted, at present very much 
of a puzzle. In the province of Catalonia, especially noted for its early lite- 
rature having reference to games, chaquete becomes jaquet, reminding us of 
the French J acquet; while among the varieties of tables enumerated by Al- 
fonso we have laquet^ in which the initial letter may or may not be, in Van 
dcr Linde's list, a misprint for J or ch. But this suggestion can scarcely be 
regarded as assuming even the doubtful dignity of a surmise, and can be 
verified only by an examination of the manuscript. In addition to the repe- 
titions, in which we have already indulged, we must again state that in 
Spanish no congener of trictrac is employed as the title of a game. The 
word triquilraque signifies in Spain either a certain kind of noise, or a *' fire- 
cracker*' (French, pdtard). In both meanings this word occurs in modern 
Spanish literature. Thus Josd Francisco de la Isla, a noted Jesuit miscellaneous 
prose writer (1703-1781), speaks of '* esos retruecanilloses, ese paloteo de 
voces, y ese triquitraquc de palabras con que usted propone'' casi todos los 
asuntos des sus sermones es cosa que me embelcsa.*' In the other sense, 
we find it in the works of the fertile and popular comic and dramatic poet, 
Manuel Breton de los Herreros (1796-1873), as is shown by these lines: 

Si ya oo ha roventado 
1.0 mismo quo un triquetra^iue, 
No es snya la oalpu; no, 
Porquo lo tiune nn corajo 
A la virla .... 

From the huge ** Diccionario enciclopedico Hispano-americano," issued 
in late years at Barcelona, we take this definition of chaquete: *' Especie de 
juego de tablas reales en el cual se van pasando alrededor todas las piezas 
por las casas desocupadas, y el que mas presto las reduce al extreme del 
lado contrario y las saca, gana el juego.'" This is followed by a single citation 
taken from the poet and essayist, Gaspar Melchior de Jovellanos (1744-1811): 

^ At thii point of oar writing we learn that the vaBt collection of chesa works belong- 
ing lo Mr. White of Cleveland (Ohio), to which ollusiou ha* bo often been made, includei 
careful copiei of all the known mediaeval M8S relating to the Indian game — among them 
the faraoui one In the Bicurial. Theae transcripts embrace also the iectlons treating of other 
table-games than chess, whenever such occur. Mr. White dispUys a liberality not always 
exhibited by book-owners In placing his copies, which must often have been obtained uu«ier 
great difficulties, at the service of investigators on both sides of the Atlantic. Availing 
oursolres of this generosity wo may be able, in the errata-supplement aUacheJ to this vol- 
umOf to disperse some of the clcuds which have hitherto obscured those chapters of the 
Castilian king's codex having to do with the games of morria and tables. 



STRAY NOTES 193 



*^.... con encuadernacion de libros, siesta, chaqttete.... y una partida de ba- 
ciga o malilla, tiene usted el compendio de la vida interior y esterior que 
hago, etc/' The same encyclopedic work gives this description of the game 
of chaquete^ which, it will be seen, is too brief to be of much interest; but 
such as it is, we copy it: ''A este juego so juega con dos dados, y segiin 
los puntos que so marquen al tirar los, so colocan quince tantos 6 damas en 
varias cassillas 6 puntos marcados en el tablero especial de este juego. Para 
jugar al chaquete es precise que cada jugador tenga quince damas 6 peones, 
como se les quiera llamar, tres tantos y dos fichas que son las senales que 
se ponen en cada punto, segun los que se ganen. El cJiaquete se juega entre 
dos pcrsonas: al cmpezar el juego se hacen dos 6 tres montones con las damas 
que se colocan en la primera casilla o flecha del chaquete; iesto se le da el 
nombro de monte 6 fondo. No hay regla que flje la cabecera, y es indife- 
rente que el monte 6 fondo de damas so coloque on uno u otro lado. Para 
jugar con orden es precise, si al principio so cmparcja, jugar dos damas del 
monte y colocarlas en el as, quo os la llecha sobre la que estan amontonadas 
las damas. Se puede jugar todo de una vez colocando una sola dama en la 
segunda flecha. Lo mismo sucede on las demas combinaciones, que pueden 
veriflcarse o jugarse a la vez, si se quiere exceptuando, no obstante, los nu- 
meros cinco y seis, que deben jugarse procisamentc cuando salon en la pri- 
mera jugada, porque las roglas del juego no permitcn que quede una dama 
sola en la casilla llamada de reposo. De la habilidad, 6 mejor, de la prudencia 
del jugador, dcpendeponer dos damas juntas en la flecha en que esta el monte 
de las damas, que por lo regular es la primera. Se pasa luego a la casilla 
del reposo, la cual se efectua colocando en dl juntas dos damas, algunas 
voces en las do su lado cuando lo exigen las lances del juego. En cuanto 
se tiran los dados, y segun las puntas que se hayan sacado, debe verse la 
ganancia 6 p^rdida quo se haya hecho antes de tocar las damas, porque es 
regla del juego que damatocada damajugada, amenosquela dama6 pednto- 
cado no pueda jugarse, caso que ocurre cuando nn jugador puede colocarse en 
una casilla do esquina no ocupada, de donde otra dama no podria entrar ni 
salir sola 6 bien que tropiece con el juego del contrario, antes de que se le 
haya abierto brecha. Segun las roglas del chaquete^ cuando se ganan dos 
puntos deben marcarse en el extreme delantero de la flecha segunda; los 
cuatro puntos delante de la flecha cuarta ; los seis puntos en la linea 
de separaci6n; los echo puntos al otro lado del la linea de separacion 
delante de la flecha seis; los diez puntos so marcan en la ultima linea; 
los doce que constituyen la partida doble so marcan con una flcha. El que 
tira los dados tienc siempro el derecho do marcar el punto que gana antes 
que su contrario senalc el que pierde. Hay que advortir tambicn que, cuando 
uno de los jugadores se ha apoderado de una de las casillas de esquina y 
el contrario no lo ha efectuado aiin en la suya, cada vez que so tiran los 
dados vale cuatro 6 seis puntos, si con dos damas se combate el rinc6n 
vacio del adversario, cs decir, seis por doble y cuatro por sencillo. Segun 
el ' Diccionario de la lengua Castellana ' por Ja Real academia espaaola,. 
*el antico juego llamado de tablas reales era muy parecido al moderno 
c?iaquete.' '' 

The description hero given is too obscure, and is characterised by too 
many omissions of essential features, to make a translation of it either feasible 
or useful. Its rule that two men must be placed simultaneously on the 

25 



\9A CHESS IN ICBLAND 



** corner of repota ** (the extreme point in each player*s table) seems to ally 
it with the French tridrac^ but, on the other hand, many important character- 
istics of that principal French variety are not mentioned by the evidently 
ignorant Spanish compiler. It would be satisfactory to find tliat there was 
a real relationship — as well as a resemblance of name — between chaquete 
and the French Jacquei, but the reader, on examining the few lines which 
we have devoted to the latter (p. 182), will notice that no mention is made 
in the Spanish account of the avcmt'Caurier, or single piece sent forward in 
the Frencli game to the final board. Nor are we told, either by the writer 
cited, or in any other accessible publication, what the real difference is 
between tablas r&ales and chaquete^ the dictionaries even, as we have stated, 
only vaguely informing us that they resemble each other. It is not at all 
impdHsiblo that at present in Spain they are two names for one and the same 
thing. As to the Spanish dictionaries, tliey are all worse than useless so 
ftir as our purpose is concerned. The most noted one, that of the Spanish 
academy, lias for the most part been superseded by newer works. But the 
best of its successors, the ^' Diccionario de la lengua castellana '' of Donadiu 
y Puignau does little more than to copy the very brief description of his 
predecessor (under chaquete): *' £speciedejuegodera5to^ reaUs^ en el cual ae 
van pasando alrededor todas las piezas por las casas desocupadas, y el que 
mAs presto las reduce al extremo del lado contrario y las saca, gana el juego '' 
— Just as it has likewise been reproduced, as a definition, by the compiler 
of the ** Dicclonario enciolopedico." Donadiu y Puignau adds nothing to this 
exrept to give the corresponding Catalan form hsjaquet. 0(c?iaquetehe sug- 
gents an etymology, which certainly has a dubious look; he says that it is 
derived from the old-French eschac^ signifying ** booty" (frwa'n), "capture" 
or **proy" {prvsa)^ and so **game'' (jwe^o)— a derivation which has been 
copied and tacitly endorsed by other Spanish compilers. The early French 
word ho citos has to do >^-ith our Germanic friend, which we treated some 
pages back, from which, in its Old High German form (scdhhdri)^ is descended 
the modern Gorman vocable scMchtn- (** robber"), and which has been used 
in attempting to ascribe to choss a European origin. Under triquitrnque the 
same lexicographer has the two usual meanings, telling us that in the sense 
of a repeated noise the Catalan orthography is tHchtrach^ while for "cracker" 
or "squib" it employs quite another term (carreiillay piule). The French- 
Spanish dictionary of Salvii (1876, 6th ed.), the compiler of which was a scholar 
of high reputation, translates "trictrac" by chaquete, and "revertier" as 
juego de chaquete, while the French "jacquet" is defined kb juego de tablas 
reales ^Xh&n which nothing could be more indefinite. Other definitions 
relating to backgammon are; "jan," las dos tablas del juego del chaquete o 
de tablas reales ; " faire sa jan de retour," volver a su propria juego, des- 
pues de haber pasado todas sus daman al juego del contrario; "Centre jan," 
contraenvite, llamada falsa en algunos juegos. These explanations are all 
inexact, to say the least. The following are more correct, and relate to the 
names of the doublets : " ambesas," ases, voz que usan losjngadores de chaquete 
cuando sale el as en dos dados, o en los tres; "ternes," tet'nas o treses, jm- 
rejos de tres puntos en el juego de dados : "carmes," cuadernas o cuatros, las 
parejas de cuatro en cl juego de tablas o del chaquete; "quine,'' quina, par^a 
de cinco en el juego del chaquete. We find no rendering of the French "san- 
nes" (double sixes). It is worth noting that the Spanish and Italian words 



STRAY NOTES 195 



for "die*' {dado) are identical, and that pareoa^ in the former tongue, signifies, 
*' doublet." 

As to Portugal the lack of information is still greater than in the case 
of its peninsular companion, and we are obliged to depend almost wholly 
upon the makers of dictionaries. We discover from them that there are four 
expressions used as names of games played on the backgammon board: 
1. [jogo de] tabulas; 2. tiquetaque: 3. [jogo do] ^amSo; and 4. tocadilho. In 
regard to the first we learn that the orthography of this derivative of the 
Latin tabula vacillates (in the singular) between tabola, tabula and iaboa. 
Tabola is also given with the signification of "pawn'' or **man;" while 
Adolpho Coelho's ** Diccionario etymologico da lingua portugueza" states 
that it not only has this meaning {pe^a^edanda para o jogo de gamSo) but 
also signifies the board (e outros de taboleiro), Tiquetaque is said by the 
" Century dictionary " to be the Portuguese for backgammon or tricktrack, 
and is indeed found in most of the Portuguese vocabularies in that sense. 
Coelho does not cite this form, but in his definition of tocadilho he refers to 
triquetraque [jogo de tabulas similhante ao triquetraque)^ but when you look 
up his rubric of triquetraque^ you can discover no mention of it as the name 
of a game, but only as a ** fogo de artificio que da estalos"— evidently the 
" fire-cracker." Coelho declares that it is an ancient term. The most interest- 
ing of the denominations in our list is, however, ^^mflo, the more interesting 
that its origin seems to be still a mystery. It is also, we believe, the most 
common of the Portuguese terms. Coelho speaks of" o jogo do gamSo," and 
of " o taboleiro de jogo do gamSo; " and tells us that it is the same as the 
Spanish friquitraque (which, as we have already learned, does not to seem 
to be known to Spanish lexicography as the name of a game) and the French 
trictrac or iriquetrac. Elsewhere he defines gantSo as a "jogo de azar e cal- 
ciilo," adding that it likewise means " o taboleiro [board] sobre que so joga." 
Other Portuguese dictionaries describe gamSo as sbaraglino (an Italian name 
for a variety of backgammon); one renders the word trictrac disjogo de ta- 
holas, gam&o; and the Italian sbaraglio (of which we shall hear soon) is 
translated by gamSo de tres dados. Whether gamSo be the English "gammon ; " 
which it resembles in pronunciation— received into the language possibly 
through the French— it is altogether impossible to decide except after more 
thorough investigation. Our fourth term, tocadilho (which, as we have observed, 
does not seem to be Spanish), is found in the vocabulary of Coelho, as well as 
in those of other lexicographers, but without any suggested etymology. In 
one dictionary it is rendered by the Italian tavola reale. In an English and 
Portuguese dictionary by Lacerda (1866), our "trictrac" is rendered by Jo^ro 
de tabulas^ and our "backgammon" by gamSo; but in the Portuguese-Eng- 
lish part (1871) of the same work we have jogo das tabulas Interpreted as 
"the game called tables or draughts"— an ordinary instance of lexicological 
fallibility. All this is very meagre. There ought (as we have said in regard 
to Spain) to be some treatise on games, published either in the mother country 
or in Brazil, which would enhance our scanty information, but we have failed 
to find any which presents any features of much value. The fourth edition 
of an anonymous "Manual dos jogos" was indeed issued at Lisbon in one 
of the last years of the century just closed. It is printed in large type, 
treats 46 games of cards; 14 "jogos differentes," among them the usual table 
games (except morris); 4 "jogos de sport;" and a multitude of social or draw- 



196 CHESS IN ICELAND 



ing-room amusements. '^ To each game are assigned certain very brief 
numbered paragraphs. Thus, billiards is taught in 25 such paragraphs, the 
longest extending to fewer than six lines; draughts is presented in 17 para- 
graphs; and chess in 34, that is in fewer than 88 of the large- type lines. 
Gam&o (trictrac) has also its place (pp. 150-153), embracing 26 numbered 
paragraphs, the longest of 8 lines. A few unimportant illustrations adorn 
the volume, one being a vignette on the cover title-page, repeated on p. 139, 
representing the assalio board, that is the English fox-and-geese board hav- 
ing the upper arm of the cross transformed into a fortress; while others 
exhibit the method of laying out a croquet field (p. 173) and a tennis court 
(p. 189). 

In treating all the table-games there is a general lack of precision, 
which can only arise from lack of knowledge. In draughts (damcLs)^ for in- 
stance, we are told that ''ordinarily the men (peJies) are placed on the white 
squares" but that "this, however, is of no importance since they may be 
placed indifferently on those, or on the black ones*' — without any allusion 
to the fact that the squares must be those in the diagonal lines. Nor is either 
the number of squares or the number of men necessary to the game stat- 
ed, the compiler having, perhaps, heard vaguely of ** Polish draughts" and 
not wishing to betray, unnecessarily, his ignorance. At the end of some of 
the sections, forming the final rule or paragraph, is a general apology declar- 
ing that the game under notice is of such a complicated character that it 
is impossible to treat it in detail. In reference to chess {xadrei) we are 
told (pp. 162-166) that the men are called peao (plural, pedes)\ and the pie- 
ces rei^ rainha, roqtie (plural, roques), cavallo (plural, cavallos) and delphin 
(plural, delphins). By the 22d rule we are advised that "when a king is se- 
parated from the hostile king by only a single square it is said to be in op- 
position'* {quando um ret estd unicamente separado do rei inimigo por uma 
casa^ diz-se em opposifoo). A similar dubious definition is that given in the 
25th paragraph: **To sacrifice a piece {pe^a) to the enemy in order to secure 
a more open {niais desafogada) position is to play a gambit {jogar um gam- 
bito)," Castling, according to the meaning given to it in rule 27, is a mat- 
ter of great simplicity: "To play two pieces at once is called castling 
(chama-se rocar)/' We enumerate these naive definitions merely to give an 
idea of the character of the work. We find cited only a few technical chess 
terms. Among them are : cheque ao rei ; cheque a descoberto ; cheque do- 
brado; cheque perpetuo ; mute abafado. 

And now we come to gamBo, which is subdivided into 26 brief para- 
graphs. We note, as we run our eye over the three pages, that the men 
are called damas ; and the points to be counted pontos. The 15 damas of 
one player are white, those of his opponent either black or green. The 
game requires likewise 2 dice (dados), three markers (tentos) and two pegs, 
(pregos^ in French fiches) of bone or ivory. The dice are placed in a copo 
de couro (literally "cup of leather*'). The men, at the beginning of the 

*^ The title of tbe book in full Is : " Manual dot Jogo« — Jogoa de Cartas peqaenot Jo|r<*a 
de tala o Jogon diversoa — 4^ edif&o InteranieDte refundlda e augmentada com todoa oa Jogon 
modernos uiadoa nos cluba e na boa cocledadc taea como BlufT, Whict, Botton, Baee«rat, 
BAalque^ Piquet, Lawn-tennfi, Foot-ball, Croquet, Cricket, etc., etc. Llaboa — 1899 editor 
— Arnaldo Bordado, 4t Rua da Victoria — 1*** — H* pp. 262. — wblch we give with lU peenllar 
pooetaation. 



STRAY NOTES 197 



game, are piled in three heaps on the first point (here flecha^ from the 
French) marked on the backgamraon-board {gam&o). The white men are 
considered to be the "pieces of honor" {damas de honor). Casar means to 
establish a casa^ that is to make a point safe by "doubling'' a man on it; 
az (plural, azes) is ace; lango is a "move;" componho corresponds to the 
French i'ad(m&e at chess. The author's final paragraph reads thus: "there 
are many and good treatises on the game of backgammon. They are all, 
moreover, books containing abundant matter {Hvros de copiosn »iateria)^ 
some of them exceeding, in the number of their pages, the present manual. 
Amateurs will consult those works." In the preceding paragraph (25th) he 
had given his customary apologetical utterance about the deficiencies of his 
book: "N'um pequeno resumo de j6gos como o nosso, comprehende-se a im- 
possibilidade que ha em desenvolver aquelles que, como o gamSo, obedecem 
a complicadissimas regras." 

It would be difficult for the tyro, even with the closest study, to learn 
to play the game by the sole aid of the meagre instructions thus given. Nor 
can one easily decide what variety of the game is here described, but it 
seems to correspond more nearly to the ordinary French trictrac than to 
any other. We are first informed that each player has "15 men which lie 
disposes artistically on the points indicated in the board" {quinze damas^ 
as dispHe artisticamente sobre os pontos marcados no taholeiro), and then that 
the game is begun by entering the 15 men, in 2 or 3 piles, on the first 
point designed on the board {gamao). Rule 12 tells us that no isolated or 
single man can be placed on the "point of repose" (casa de descan^^^ which 
is immediately afterwards styled casa de repouso), and the inhibition is re- 
peated, in another form, by the statement that a casa can be made on that 
point by placing on it, conjointly, two men {coUocondo n^ella, cor\junctamente, 
duos damas). The rule for reckoning the minor points, as well as the game- 
points, are virtually those which we find laid down in the treatise of Mou- 
lidars for trictrac. If we may draw any conclusion from this work it is that 
the modern Portuguese game is that most taught and practised in France. 
The only name given in the "Manual" to backgammon is gamSo, 

If we regard the identity of the Roman duodecim scripta with nard- 
tables-backgammon, or with some form of it, as not yet determined, then 
we must assume that the oldest historical monuments connected with the 
history of our game in the Italic peninsula are those remarkable manuscripts, 
of which' the earliest extant texts are to be found in Florence and Rome, 
and which treat of what has been characterised as the triad of mediaeval 
diversions— the games of chess, morris and tables. These ancient codices, 
in their existing shape, all date from a period between the XlVth and the 
XVIth centuries. They were originally written in Latin, and, therefore, it 
is noi impossible that there may have been texts, now lost, going back to 
a somewhat earlier date. The portions relating to the morris game and to 
tables have not been, so far as is known to us, subjected to an accurate 
comparison with the Alfonsine MS, and hence we can form no trustworthy 
judgment of the relations they may, or may not bear to the Spanish text. 
We only know that certain methods of playing tables are indicated by the 
same, or very similar names, in both. That Latin is the language of the 
early North-Italian documents and Spanish of that of Alfonso might indicate 
the greater age of the former, but this diflerence may well be owing toother 



198 CHESS IN ICELAND 



circumstances than age. The development of vernacular literatures in both 
lands was nearly contemporaneous. While the wise Alfonso, to whom the 
Escurial MS owes its being, was writing his famous code and his chronicle 
at Seville, the emperor of the Holy Roman empire, Frederick II, was inditing 
Italian verses at Palermo, and Ouido Guinicelli was composing the earliest 
sonnets, canzoni andballate at Bologna— works which made him, in Dante*8 
opinion, 

il padre 

Hio e degll altri miei migUor, che mfti 
Rime d* amore ns&r doloi e leggiadre. 

But Alfonso '* first made the Castilian a national language,'* as the chief 
historian of Spanish letters tells us — and, singularly enough, by the same 
means employed by Luther, long afterwards, to give vitality to the German, 
namely by translating the Bible into it — and would naturally see that his 
book of games, like nearly everything else with which he had to do, was in 
the vulgar speech. Political relations did not exist between North Italy and 
Spain until almost three centuries later, when, under Charles V, they be- 
came intimate enough; for the struggles between the other Spanish Alfonsos, 
Alfonso V and VI of Arragon, and the republic of Genoa were mainly 
confined to the sea, although the latter monarch, after the disastrous naval 
battle off Ponza in 1435, was, for a brief period, a prisoner-guest in the 
hands of the last Visconti duke of Milan, to whose custody he had been 
consigned by the victorious Genoese. No doubt there was, in those days, 
a fairly close ecclesiastical connection between the two prominent Latin 
nationalities, so that, through the convents, or through various channels 
meeting each other at Rome, an author of any production in one country, 
would be pretty apt to hear of and to get sight of any preceding work on 
his theme written in the other. It is not unlikely, however, that the strong- 
est link uniting the two peninsulas, just at the time in which we are in- 
terested, would be the great university of Bologna, which was at its highest 
point of fame and frequency between Irnerius in the Xllth century and 
Mondino in the XlVth; one of its earliest foundations — still to be seen— 
is the ** CoUegio di Spagna,'' anciently thronged with students from beyond 
the Pyrenees. Very notable certainly is the similarity of the Spanish and 
Italian MSS, both principally devoted as they are to three amusements, chess, 
morris, tables. Did the authors of both independently select these three 
subjects, because in both lands they were the most notable table-games? 
Did those of Italy imitate the Spanish production, or did the Castilian mon- 
arch get the idea of his compilation from or through Rome? Or did both 
follow in the path of earlier compilers ? In one respect they are understood 
to differ: — the Italians pay no heed to games of pure chance, in which dice 
only are used without board or men, while a certain number of such 
games appear to be described in the Escurial codex. Was this because the 
North-Italian compilations were for use in school and cloister, and the other 
was pnepared for the diversion of a court? The testimony of age, proving 
what it may, so far as we are now in a position to gather and appreciate 
it, is assuredly in favor of Spain. We know that the compilation which 
bears the name of Alfonso was completed before 1285; we cannot, taking 
the most favourable view, ascribe so high a date, by at least a half century, 
to any of the venerable works which we are about to describe. But, as has 



STRAY NOTES 1» 



been said by others, there may have been older texts, which have disap* 
peared. 

The original and oldest forms of these works are to be found chiefly 
in three collections, namely, the great Victor Emanuel or government li- 
brary at Rome, in the library belonging to Prince Barberini in the same 
city, and in the National library — the largest in Italy — at Florence. It is 
possible, though not probable, that one or two of these codices go back to 
the Xrvth century, but the others, as we have just said, are to be referred to 
the XVth and XVIth. Though not all contain positions in chess, merelles 
and backgammon, most of them include problems in all three, generally with 
an explanatory note attached to each, showing how it is to bo played and 
resolved. The chess problems always come first, are much the most numerous, 
and are followed in varying order by those at morris or tables. It is in our own 
times that attention was first called to the texts in Italy —a little subsequent to 
the middle of the XlXth century— after they had, for a long while, vanished 
from the knowledge of the general public — hidden away, in the unsatisfac- 
torily catalogued MSS rooms of the vast Italian book-collections we have 
mentioned, as securely as if they had been sunk to the bottom of the river 
Lethe. For subject-lists of collections of codices and of archives are almost 
non-existent on the continent of Europe, and in ordinary alphabetical author- 
catalogues, anonymous and pseudonymous productions, if entered at all, are 
generally so entered as to be almost introuvahles, unless the searcher be 
not only an expert, but an inspired expert. The story of their refinding, 
which was given to the public by the London Illustrated Netos in 1854,** re- 
minds one of the rediscovery by Pierre de Nolhacofthe precious Petrarch 
autograph MSS, belonging, in the XVIth century, to the Fulvio Orsini col- 
lection, but which, for several generations, had been concealed from hnman 
ken, their very existence forgotten, in the rarely-opened presses of the Vat- 
ican treasure-house. That event was almost like the reappearance of the 
Italian poet himself, pen in hand, among the ranks of the living. In the 
other case, the little world of chess was astounded to learn what stores of 
the chess wisdom of our ancestors had been almost unwittingly preserved 
for our delectation. So far as their chess contents are concerned the newly- 

^ The announcement of tbo diccuvcry of these AISS was made In the London JUwtrated 
IfttD* (tbo ehese-column of which waa then edited by Howard Staunton) of July 1, 18M 
(page-namber 632) In an article entitled *' Remarkable diccovery of valuable M88 on cbeM.** 
The dUcovery was laid to have been made iu the two wont important llbrarlea of Florence 
(probably the Maglabecchlan and the Palatine, since that time united as the National library) 
by a slgnor Fantaccl, whose coromunleatlon was written from the Tuscan ministry of the 
Interior (Ulnistero dell* Interne). The article states that Mr. Fantaeel had procured copies 
ef the chief works which he had found, and had sent these transcripts to Mr. Staunton. 
Then folluwa a brief list of sotou MSS, of which the first four, two on Tellum and two on 
paper, are among those which we bare treated iu the present section. The first of these la 
the oldest, *' Bonus Soclns '* — this anonym Is here seen for the first time In print — which 
Is said by Mr. Fantaccl to be of the latter end of the Xlllth or the beginning of the XlVth 
century ; the other vellum Is assigned to the XVth century ; the third codex Is a Latin paper 
MS, and the fourth an Italian paper MS, both likewise of the XVth century. The last three 
MSS consist of au anonymous paper codex of the XVIth century entitled : ** L* elcganita, aot- 
tiliu e vcrriti [»ie] della vlrtuoslsstma professlone degli scacchi ; ** an Italian Tellam eontain* 
Ing a work by Luigl Ouloolardinl, being a " eomparaslone del giuoco degll scaechi all* arte 
mllitare, " without date; and a parchment MS of Greco's <* Noblliaslmo gluoeo de seaeekl** 
with the date of 16tl. The account of these MSS is copied word for word Into the Ck— 
Playtr'M ChronicU (new series II, pp. 220-SSl), likewise then edited by Mr. StaanlOB. Sbor| 



200 CHESS IN ICELAND 



found MSS have been studied with much care and judgment by Van der 
Linde and Von der Lasa, but the portions of them which are devoted to the 
other mediaeval games still await an editor. He should not much longer be 
lacking, for it is easy to understand that no history of tables- backgammon, 
in its European period, can be written without a previous minute study of 
all these manuscript sources. In such days as ours, when so many scholars 
are crowding each other in their efforts to delve among the literary and 
other treasures of the past, it is rare to find so much unwrought material, 
on any subject, so easily accessible to the student. 

These documents of Italian origin fall into two families or groups, one 
(believed to be the earlier) having for ita compiler a writer who styles 
himself **Bonu8 Socius.'' This signifies literally a '*good companion** or 
*'good fellow,*' but has also been interpreted to mean "teacher,** "tutor,** 
»' instructor,** "docent** — from an alleged mediieval use of the term in uni- 
versities ; but why should it not be regarded as signifying a man fond of 
company and pleasures ~ and pastimes, in fact a "boon companion,** for 
"bonus** is "boon.** In some of the texts or versions the compiler*s or 
editor*s name is given as Nicholas de St. Nicholai, and he is said to be of 
Lombardy. If "St. Nicliolai** or "S. Nicola** represent his natal place the 
matter is not thereby much helped, for there are numerous communities so 
called in Italy — especially in the Southern provinces, where the cult of the 
patron saint of Bari once greatly prevailed — to say nothing of others in 
other lands. There seems to be no such locality well or widely known in 
Lombardy, but there is one just over the border in Venetia. Von der Lasa 
suggests that the real "Bonus Socius** may have been born in any country, 
and have lived in Northern Italy as a member of a monastery, which makes 
the effort to identify his birthplace well nigh a hopeless task. The MS of 
his work which furnishes the earliest known text is found in the National 
library at Florence— a handsome vellum codex (B. A. 6 — p.2.-no. 1.); while 
others, complete or incomplete, in the original, or in French or other render- 
ings, are preserved in the libraries of France (at Paris and Montpellier) ; of 
England (at London and in the possession of the Fountaine family, Narford 
Hall, Swaffham, Norfolk — but see a later page of this section, where it will 
be noted that this rare and beautiful volume has ceased to be the property 
of the Fountaines); in cities east of the Rhine (Prague, Munich, Wol- 
fenbiittel) ; and even in the United States (at Cleveland, Ohio). The last men- 

as the article if it ii not without bluudert, and ultimately gare rise to other miutateiDvuts. 
The titles of the fifth and the eixth MSS are erroneously copied, and we do not vouch for 
their correctness in the forms in which we have cited them ; Mr. Staunton apparently aud 
Van der Linde certainly ('* Qeschichte *' I, pag. 284), in their ignorance of Italian, mistook 
the word minUtero for minUtrOf so that the latter plainly speaks of **den wichtigen fiind 
d«s toskanlschen ministers." In the lUtutrcUed Hews of July 2S (pag. 67) the editor, in 
reply to a sapposltitlous correspondent, says that although the Guicciardlni MS is not dated, 
it is quite easy to ascertain its age approximately, since it is dedicated to the illustrious 
Cosimo de' Medlel who died 1464, not noticing that the list of MSS in his own article states 
that It was dedicated to Cosimo, the second duke of Florence (duca 2^)f who died not iu 1464 
but in 1574. As Luigi Guicciardlni, who was the nephew of the historian, was born in 1583 
and died in 1689, he could not well have dedicated his work to Cosimo the elder. V. d. 
Linde seems to have received a much later note from Fautacci, dated at Kome, December 18, 
1878. It is proper to observe that FanUcel's list does not include the 1464 Civis Bononiw 
codex, whieb the grand- duke of Tuscany is supposed to have carried away from Florence a 
few yean later. 



STRAY NOTES 201 



tioned is in the collection of Mr. John G. White, being a codex formerly in 
the possession of Mr. Robert Franz of Berlin, containing chess positions 
extracted from "Bonus Socius'* by an editor, Paulus Guarinus (Guarino), 
of Forli, a town just below the Southern boundary of Lombardy. ^ 

The other (presumably somewhat later) family of these early manuscripts 
has for its compiler a scholar styled by himself a citizen of Bologna, " Civis 
Bononiac,'' whose identity has not even been surmised. The pseudonym, 
however, strengthens, although perhaps slightly, what we have ventured to 
hint concerning the possible relation of the most venerable of the learned 
institutions of Europe to these Italian treatises. Copies of this " Civis Bo- 
nonise '' compilation are not so common as those of its predecessor; nor are 
there any known translations of it into modern languages except in the case 
of a few of the backgammon positions. Among the two oldest existing texts, 
as Von der Lasa tells us, are those of the Victor Emanuel library at Rome 
(MSS Vitt. Em. 273), and the one belonging to Prince Barberini, also in the 
Italian capital, i" He states that they are ascribed to the Xlllth or XlVth 

^ It ifl singular, though by no meau« flattoring to the Italian and Anglo-Saxon nation* 
alitief, that this Italian field has been tilled only by German scholars. The same may be 
liliewlse said of the moit memorable and most venerable of all writings devoted to medlsTal 
games, the Alfonsiue oodex ; for, although Brunei y BcUet has indeed given a valuable deserip- 
tion and reproduction of the introductory portions of the scacchic part of that MS, he does 
not pretend to treat the positions of even that section, and has little or nothing to say about 
the pages filled with examples of other games. The division {abtehnitt) of Von der Lasa*s 
admirable treatise, '*Zur geschichte and llteratur des schachspiels*' (1897), devoted to these and 
other MSS of a practical character (that is, relating to the movements of pieces) is the sixth 
(pp. llS-168), divided into two chapters. The headings to these in the table of contents are: 
**yi. I. — Altes problemwesen : Spanischer codex des Alfonso. — Gruppirung der Qbrigen hand* 
schrlfleu. — Franzdsische MSS. Cotton Ol»op. und Bibl. Reg. su London. — Die englischeu 
handschrlften Porter und Ashmole (Hartwell). — VI. S. — Altes probleuiwesen : Bonu$ Sociu* 
MS, uebst Fountaine, und Paris falte sig. 73900), Ploard (alt 7891), Wolfeubttttel extrav., MSS 
Lebkowits und Uottmanner. — CivU Bononiae MS. — Dresden MS. — Florens XIX. 11, 87.— 
Bicardiana MS und Alia rahiota. — Guarinus. — Bibl, Casanatente.^* Van der Llnde, If less 
critical, is, so far as chess goes, more nearly complete, endeavouring to reproduce the prob- 
lems and end-games from the most important compilations of the middle ages. In his 
*'Qnellenstudien" (1881) "Das schachwerk Alfonso's X" forms the third chapter of the first 
division (pp. 7S-ltO), the few lines which he devotes to the '^Libro de las tablas" of the 
royal MS occurring on pp. 78-S. Thu following (fourth) chapter treats of the "Bonus Soclus" 
MSS under the title "Das lateiuisch-pikardische schachwerk des Mlcholaus von S. Micholai 
(um 1250-1512),'* extendiug through pp. 121-185, there being some slight allusions to tables, 
as on p. 184. The subject is completed in tbo subsequent (fifth) chapter, ** Uebersetaungcn 
und frei bearbeltnngen (um 1300-1550)," pp. 186-230. Van der Linde, in his work here cited, 
does not mention the pseudonym "Civis Douonis," apparently including all the problem com* 
pilations of Northern Italian origin under the name of the other and probably somewhat 
earlier collector, "Bonus Soclus," whom both he and Von der Lasa concur In identifying as 
Nicholas de S. Nicholai, and to whom Italy, Franco and Germany lay claim. Nor does 
'* Civis Bononifc " occur in the index to Van der Linde's larger work, the "Geschichte und 
llteratur" (1874). 

*^^ Of this vellum "Civis Bononiae" codex In the Barberini palace (press*mark, X. 72), 
we are able to give a few general particulars. It is somewhat smaller than the codex Vitt. 
Km. 273, measuring 21 centimeters by 15 as against the latter's 22 Vt ^Y 17« ^ut this dif- 
ference is largely due to the binder's knife. The Barberini manuscript begini, like the 
other, with the prologue in six rhymed verses, but the opening initial (U) lacks the group 
of figures, being executed in simple blue. While the Victor Bmanuel codex is apparently 
the work of two different hands (chess by one and the two other games by a second), the 
Barberini, on the other hand, exhibits the same chirography from beginning to end. The 
number of backgammon positions in both is the same, but we are told by a scholar whose 
examination has evidently not been very complete that no words similar to ibaraiU or <6a* 

26 



202 CHESS IN ICELAND 



century, but seems to doubt the former ascription; indeed he himself, later 
on, in his last great work (p. 153), speaks of them as *'*' MSS aus dem 15 
Jahrhunderte. '' They are in fact, as it would seem, of about the middle of 
the XVth, and are admirable specimens of the book-art of the period, both 
as to the vellum, the chirography and the illuminations. A third copy, also 
on vellum, which bears marks of a somewhat greater age than these, was 
acquired by Von der Lasa himself at Rome, and still — it is to be supposed 
— forms a part of the noble library he left behind him. A fourth vellum 
codex is reported to have existed, until a recent period, in Florence, but has 
now disappeared, carried off, according to a theory of Von der Lasa, by the 
last grand-duke of Tuscany, whose personal property it is supposed to have 
been. It is said to have borne the date of 1454, The fourth text is a paper 
codex in the Florentine National library (XIX. 7. 37), judged, from internal 
evidence, to be considerably later than the foregoing, but to have had an 
editor of more than usual ability, a fact which gives it importance. The 
chess portions show a knowledge of various preceding texts; certainly, so far 
as that game is concerned, it is, in many respects, the most valuable, from 
a textual point of view, of all the "Civis Bononise'' MSS, though inferior to 
all in its external execution. Besides these manuscripts Von der Lasa cites 
another belonging to the British Museum, of the year 1466, which is less 
complete than the Italian examples. This exhausts the list of these codices. 
We shall now endeavour to give some brief notes on most of those still to 
be found in Italy, and therefore pretty certain of Italian origin. 

Undoubtedly the oldest of the *' Bonus Socius" family is the vellum of 
the National library at Florence (B. A. 6-p. 2-no. 1). It begins, as Von der 
Lasa has already told us, with a much impaired illuminated frontispiece of 
a crowned king (at the left), apparently engaged at chess with a Moor or 
other personage (at the right) — hardly a cardinal as suggested by Von der 
Lasa— in a red, hood-like cap and robe; two female figures are standing in 
the background, not, however, gazing at the board. The prefatory matter 
is on the obverse of the next folio, facing the frontispiece. This is the sole 
text of the *' Bonus Socius" group, of any approach to completeness, now in 
Italian libraries. 

The finest as well as one of the earliest of the **Civis Bononiae'' codices 
in the Italian book-collections is that of the Victor Emanuel library (273) at 
Rome. It is a fair sized quarto of 213 vellum folios, of wicli the first S are 
blank, as is the obverse of 4. The reverse of 4 contains six rhymed stanzas 
by the compiler, each beginning with an illuminated initial, the first at the 
top of the page being a large U, enclosing a perfectly preserved design of a 
youngish personage in green garments (left), engaged at chess with a bearded 
man in lilac robe and hood (right); close by, in the central background, sits 
a "figure in scarlet dress and hood, gazing at the board, with his finger on 
his lips, indicating, perhaps, the silence necessary to be maintained by a 
spectator at chess; the feet of this person are visible under the table. This 

raillin seem to occur anywhere. Tbe t'ext^ of the six prefatory verses are ideutical iu the 
two codices. There is nothing in Barberiui X. 78. to throw any further light ou the question 
of the compiler*a personality. The name, in a hand comparatively recent, on tbe margin of 
the first written page, Goa [Giovanni ?] Domenico Rinaldi, is most lilcely that of a former 
owner or the volume. A polyglot title to tbe volume, given on the preceding blank leaf, 
** Liber Tariorum ladoram videlicet dl tcaccbi, sbaraglino etc.," is lllcewise modern. 



STRAY NOTES 203 



is all of fine execution. An excellent water-colour of this illuminated front- 
ispiece — the only exact reproduction of it ever made— is preserved in the 
Reykjavik National Library. The stanzas which fill this initial page have 
been cited in full by Van der Linde (** Quellenstudien/' pp. 183-4) but, as it 
seems, his transcript is from the missing 1454 Florentine manuscript. We 
shall, therefore, copy them from the Roman (Vitt. Em.) codex; the variants, 
however, are few: 

Ubicamqae fneris nt sis gratiosas 
Nee to snbdea otiis nam vlr otdosim 
Sive sili ignobilis aire generosiis 
XJt testator sapiens etit ritiosos. 

Ut a te removeas vltiam profainm 
Legas et intelligas banc menm truotatnm 
Et sic cam nobilibns cordis adoptatnm 
Certns snm qnot poteris invenire statam. 

Statim ad scacarij roe voIto partita 
In qao mnltipliciter flnnt infinita 
Qaomm bio sont plnrima Inonlenter scita 
Ne forte mens labilis qoioqaam sit obllta. 

Hie semel positnm nnmqaam iterator 
Pustca de taboHs certnm dogma dator. 
Tnno merellos doceo qnibns plebs iocatnr 
Et sic sub oompendio liber terminator. 

Hec hnins opnscnli series est tota. 
QqIs sim scire poteris tradens tot ignota. 
Vertum prineipiis Hllabas tu noia 
Earundem media littera remota. 

Civis turn bononie itta qui eollegi, 
Qni sail breviloqaio varia compegi, 
Disponents domino opns qood peregi 
Presentavi principi possit sive regi. 

Like Van der Linde we have italicised the three enigmatical lines which are 
supposed to give a clue to the compiler's name. Like Von der Lasa we 
regard the puzzle as virtually insoluble. The verses, as Von der Lasa has 
remarked (*' Geschichte und literatur,'' pp. 153 and 155), are lacking in the 
very notable Florentine paper codex; he notices the fact thus: ** da aber in 
der handschrift ersichtlich ein paar der ersten blatter fehlen, so konnten die 
verse mit diesen verloren sein, was mir nicht warscheinlich vorkommt. " It 
is needless to say that in the opinion last expressed, after a most careful 
examination of the manuscript, we coincide. In the Florentine codex (XIX. 
7. 37.) has been substituted for the verses an extract, slightly altered, from 
the "Vetula,'' a Latin poem once believed to be by Ovid. As this substituted 
citation contains no allusion to tables or merelles we pass it by. ** The other 

^ or ibe pseudo-Ovidian poem, *' Liber de Vetuls," a considerable number of manu- 
BoHpU exist in tbo libraries of Europe (see Van der Linde, " Gescblebte,** II., pp. 149-166, 
where the account of the work, bo far as the chess portions are concerned, and of its rs- 
rions editions, is commendably full). It was long oitsd as a genuine production of Orid, as 
far back as by that clear-headed scholar, Richard de Bury (1286). Its oldest mannseript, a 
quarto vellum at Montpellcr (nO 366), is certainly nearly or quite contemporary with its 
author, now identified, with tolerable certainty, as a famous romantier of the Xlllth century, 
Richard de Fonrnival (Fournlvalle, Fournlvaux), who held a canonleate at Amiens, Franee, 



204 CHESS IN ICELAND 



Roman codex (Barberini) we have not examined. There is a fairly good 
transcript of it in the National Library of Iceland. 

After these prefatory remarks we shall now turn to the oldest of the 
"Bonus Socius'' MSS (Florence B, A. 6-p. 2-no. 1). Its contents may be thus 
^enumerated : folio fl], obverse blank ; reverse, injured illuminated frontispiece; 
f. j. obverse, preface; ff. j reverse-98a, chess; 98b-112a, merelles; 112a-118a, 
tables; 118b-119a, blank; 119b,' note in finer writing by a later hand. There 
are 24 merelles positions and 11 at tables — all on diagrams. In "Bonus 
Socius '' the tables diagrams are drawn perpendicularly as to the length (or 
longer extent); in *'Civis Bononi?e" they are perpendicular as to the height 
(or shorter extent). In this manuscript the descriptions or solutions of the 
positions are on the opposite page (the left-hand pag^ of the "open/' as 
the Icelanders style it). Therefore the positions are at the right, as the book 
is held open. Two problems are given on a page, one above the other, 
except in the case of the ninth, which, owing to the length of the opposite 

and i« Indeed lotnewhere styled chancellor of that city (''eaneeUarlas amblanensfa**). SeToral 

of hill amatory romances are preserved In a manuscript form at the French National library. 

The earliest printed edition of the <'Vetala** Is that of Cologne, having neither dale, plaee, 

printer's name nor signatures, of about the year 1470, which bears the tltfe of **Pablii Ovidii 

Nasonis liber de Vetala.*' A later edition was Issued in the same city in 1479. We elte the 

edition of Wolfenbttttel 1662, a volume in which it appears with the "Speculum stultonira** 

of another writer, under the common title of *'Opuscula duo auctorum Incertorum.** The 

**VetuIa** closes the volume, and Is separately paged (forming 95 pages): It is divided Into 

numbered sections, that relating to tables beginning (p. 21) with section XXVIII of book first 

as follows : 

Rxcusare tanten speciem Ludi deciorum 

Nituntur, cum qa& deduoitur alea pernix : 

Ipsam, dieentes, pauco discrimine rerum 

Pasei posse diu tanta est dilatio ludl, 

Tanti lueri damuive mora est: suoeesslo eujus 

Tot parit eventus, quot jactus continet in sp, 

Fine tonus, ludus, nee sol& sorte, sed arte 

Procedunt acies, & inest industria mira. 

Praescrtim cum multimod6 mutatio Ludi 

Quolibet In Jactn disponi possit, e6quod, 

Sicut prfficessit Jactus, diversificantur 

In pnnctatura proprie : quia schema cadendi 

Nil operatur in hoc, sed punctatura doeet quid 

Lusoris faciat viso solertia Jactu. 

By a eareftil examination of the whole of the matter relating to backgammon It would not 
be di£Beult to obtain a definite idea of the method of play which prevailed in France some 
six hundred years ago. This remarkable poem was rendered Into French by Jean Lefevre, 
born at Ressous sur Mats (near Compi^gne), according to some critics between 1815 and 1820, 
according to others in the last years of the XlVth century. His version, or perhaps it should 
rather be styled a paraphrase, was only printed in 1861 tho text being drawn from two 
early manuscripts In the Paris National library, edited by Hippolyte Cocherlfl. The inte- 
resting opening lines are copied by Van der Linde (op. cit., p. 164). The chapters have 
headings, that concerning tables being: "Du jeu des tables et comment Ovlde dit qnMIs ne 
sont point mains dommagables que les dec,'* the opening lines (p. 66) being 

Aucnns se veulent excuser 

Dn gieu des des, pour am user 

Au glen qui est de trente tables [men] ; 

Ne sont galres mains dommagables, 

C'est an gieu de guerre partie, 

Qainae en a de chascune partie. 

Si dTent quant a tear oppose, 

Qa*on paist le glea be pon de ebose. 



* 
STRAY NOTES 205 



solution, is alone in the centre of its page. On the inside of the manuscript's 
first cover is a note by a former owner recording the fact in regard to the 
codex, that it **fe molto tempo che si trova in casa nostra de Baldouinattj." 
The work has, of course, no proper title, but, in his preface, the author, 
after some philosophising, and not a few moral reflections, says: (" Idcirco 
ego bonus socius, sociorum meorum precibus acquiescens, partita que uide- 
ram...,")—** Therefore I, a good companion, yielding to the prayers of my 
companions, have edited in this little book those positions which I had seen, 
as well as those which I have made by my own study, in the games of chess 
and tables &S well as in that of merelles (**de ludvs scaccorum alearumque 
etiam marellorum in hoc libello''), thus reversing the order in which, in 
the text, merelles and backgammon actually occur. There are, later on, in 
the opening of the description or solution of the first tables (backgammon) 
problem, a few special preliminary words, in which the reader is told that 
these problems {ista partita) are of tables, that some are played out with 

Oar gaaing ni vient pat en l*curo, 

Et la dommaige aMos demeuro, 

Par la longae dilacion 

Du gieu par variaelon ; 

Car autant y a d^'aventurea 

Gomroe on y ^ecte de poiuturea. 

Le gieu ne te fait point par sort, 

Mais par art anavoir plus fort. 

De deax coulonrs qui leg champiasent, 

De deux chasteauls en an ehamp yMout. 

Dont merveiUeuse est 1* indastrie, 

Bt soatille en est la malatrie, 

Pour ce qu*on poet multiplier 

Son gieu, par sea tables lier, 

Selon les poins de la cheaoce, 

Qui enselgnent quelle ordonance 

Le Jonenr peut de ses gens faire, 

Et commennt doit ses tables traire 

Par deTers soy, et combiner 

Si a peril au ohominer. 

These form, reckoniug a repeated couplet which we have omitted, lines 1169-1298, but the 
whole tables section is continued to line 1416 (p. 66-72). Vree as is the version, or perhaps 
beoaase of its freeness, the French poem greatly facilitates thu understanding of the Latin 
original. We add likewise the opening lines of the brief raerelles section (p. 86), which 
have the descriptive heading: "Ci parle du gien des roerellea auqnul souloient aneiennemcnt 
jouer les pucelles." They begin:* 

Antres gieus sont que les pncelle<i 
SceTcnt, mais petites nonvelles * 

Sont du dire et da raeonter 
Chose qui a pou peut monter. 
Ces gieux sont nommes aux merelles, 
Dont juveuceaulx et Juvencelles 
Se Jeuent dessus une table. 
* Dome on nenf font le gieu estable, 

Mais a donee prent sans faillir 
Celle qni puet oultre sailHr 
Deasns 1' autre par adventure. 

The whole seetion forms lines 1735-1754. The words '*doaze on nenf** kok like a relationship 
to the "twelve men morris" and "nine men morris** of England and America, although a 
mneh later manuscript (1660) of the poem speaks of the game as one '*qui se fait par neuf 
on par dix merelles,** where *'dix** may possibly be an error for "dpaaa.** 



206 CHESS IN ICELAND 



two dice {cum duohus tcucillis) and some with three, and that some are 
optative games {ludi oplatiui)-^ ending with the phrase which we copy lite- 
rally; **ut ho sinetaxillis optet qd' uelit." Thereafter follows the descriptive 
solution beginning: ** Et est iste primus Indus huffa in duobus taxillis/' 
Here we have again the bufa of king Alfonso, the remotest form of the 
present German name of backgammon (puff). These solutions generally 
record, at their very beginning, the number of dice employed at each throw, 
or otherwise comment on the nature of the problem, as, for instance, (117a). 
'* Istud partitum optimum sed diflficilimum ad plenum " (ad plenum being, 
perhaps, the modem French "plein''); (115bl) "Iste Indus est ualdedecep- 
torius;" (n5b2) "Ludus iste est optatiuus in tribus taxillis." The positions 
mostly demand three dice, which, for various reasons, seems to us the 
older method, at any rate in European tables. Among the technical words 
occurring we notice domus (home-board), atbe (plural, white), negri^ (black), 
cw, deiis^ trai^ quatevy cine, sis, amesas (ambas as), temes, sines. The eleven 
positions at tables to be found in this volume all appear again in the incom- 
plete Italian codes (XIX. 7. 51) in the same Florentine library. 

We come now to the Roman vellum codex (Vitt. Em. 273) of the " Civis 
Bononise '' redaction, certainly, in its execution and in its present well- 
preserved condition, the most splendid of them all. It starts with blank 
folios numbered (numbering modern) 1,2, 3, followed by 4, of which the 
obverse is blank, while the reverse begins with a very ornate initial U, 
enclosing the illuminated group of three figures already described (a youngish 
personage in green garments seated at chess against a bearded man in lilac 
robe and hood, with a third person in scarlet vestments sitting in the central 
background, looking on); then come the prefatory verses we have cited, 
written as prose, each stanza forming a paragraph commencing with a fine 
initial in two colours; to the first of the stanzas appertains the much larger 
initial U at the head of the page. After these follows the chess text, the 
first position on f. 5a, the last on f. 148b. all the diagrams filled. The 76 
partita at tables occupy ff. I49a-I86b, and are followed by 4 unused or vacant 
diagrams on ff. 187a- I88b. The volume ends with the 48 merelles problems, 
ff. 189a-212b, concluding with an unused morris diagram on the last folio 
(213a). Throughout this beautiful vellum every page opens with an illuminated 
initial letter in two colours. The design of the diagram for tables represents 
(for the first timet) the one (half) table joined to the other by hinges, so 
that the two can be shut together like a modern backgammon (and chess) 
board ; the table has, however, as usual at this early period, houses instead 
of points. Each one of the positions, chess, tables or morris, is placed in the 
centre of the page, having the descriptive text around it on the three exterior 
margins, the brilliant initials (blue and red, or red and violet) being uniformly 
in the upper left-hand corner. The diagrams are in blue, having the space 
between the external lines in faint olive green; the men arc in red (=light 
or whit^) and blue ( = black). In these backgammon diagrams every man is 
figured by a coloured disc (never by numbers, showing how many stand on a 
certain point). 

It is impossible, within our limits, to copy much of the text of this mon- 
umental codex. We give, therefore, only the opening lines of some of the 
descriptions of the partita^ premising that we have not often ventured to 
change the orthography, and that we have underscored the names of the 



STRA Y NOTES 



an 



varloafl modes of play: (151b) "letud p&rtitum est de testa optatiunm detribus 
laiillis;" (152b) "late ludos est optaliuus in tribuB tailllis;" (1Mb) "Istud 
partituni est de sbarail cum duobus taxillis;" (163a) "Istud partilum est de 
sbarait optativuDi;" (163b) "Istud partitum est partitum optatiuum... et eat 
de minorei;" (167b) " Istud pai-titnm est de mitioret in uno taxillo et uocatur 
U merlin;" (168a) "Albe [usually writton ioBt^d of oHiie] primo trahunt et 



1 A A -^ A A. 



^A.±±±±^ 



w Y Y T 



Y Y Y V ' 



Fig. 18. 



faciunt minorel et negre maioret;" (168b) "In isto part i to de minoi-et trahnnt 
primo nigre;" (HSb) " Estud partitum est do la buf in duobus tasillis at 
stant omnes in domo;" (ITBa) "Istud partitum est de sbarait;" (HSb) "Omnes 
utriusque partis suntaffldato, et est partitum del sbarnil in tribus taiillis;" 
(181a) " In isto partito tarn nigre quam albe stant in domo ad eleuandum, et 
est de sbarail in tribus taxillis;" (182b) "istud partilum est de bett\eUis la 
tribus taxillis;" (lS3a) "Istud partitum est de ludo qui dicitur baldrac, qui 
est iudus subtilis et non mullum usitatus;" (183b] "Istud partilum est de 
limperiat in duobua taiillis et sex semper in terno ; " (184a) " Istud partitum 
est de limperial in duobus taiillis et sex pro terno; " (i84b) "Istud partitum 
sic precedens est de limperi<d in duobus taiillis et sex in tertio, et habent 
nigre uoltam;" (185b) "In isto partito omnes sunt afSdate." The text in- 
troducing the first tables position {H9a) begins with the general statement: 
" Ista sunt partita tabularum, " where we find the name given as tabuUe (lo 



208 CHESS IN I GEL A ND 



genitive, tabularum). It will be observed that we have here many of the 
Alfonsine names of the varying raothods of play (varieties), like huf (Spanish 
**bufa"), imperial (very likely ''emperador'*), baldrac ('Ma bufa de baldrac''), 
as well as an early form of the Italian ^'sbaraglio '' (sbaraiC), hereafter to be 
treated; likewise certain of the varieties cited in the British Museum codex 
(MSS reg. 13. A. XVIII), the^ext of which we have reproduced (pp. 161-165), 
such as imperial and sbarail (''baralie''). Very likely other coincidences 
between the manuscripts of Madrid, Florence (and Rome) and London might 
be discovered by a capable investigator. 

The last of these codices of Italian origin on which we shall bestow 
more than a cursory notice, is the paper *'Civis Bononise'* one of Florence 
(XIX. 7. 37) *S9. The folios of this manuscript have been neatly numbered 
by means of printing-type (stamped by hand), and the positions, as usual, 
are in colours. The anonymous editor has an introduction, which Von der 
Lasa ("Geschichte und literatur," pp. 154-155) has reproduced in the original 
Latin. It seems to be his opinion that this editor prepared the exemplar for 
the use of teachers, or perhaps for tliose whom we now style "professional 
players." The chess positions, as in general, come first, and are directly 
followed by those at tables (72 in number), occupying ff. 157a to 192b, when 
they are succeeded by the 44 at morris (merelles) ; there are then added se- 
veral supplementary chess problems; the inserted ten M§ folios by Von der 
Lasa finally complete the volume. The diagrams are drawn at the bottom, 
or on the lower half of each page, the upper portion containing the descrip- 
tion or solution of the position. The three colours used are yellow for the 
board, and red and black for the men. In the backgammon partita the men are 
sometimes represented by small discs (red and black), sometimes by num- 
bers (red and black), defining the number of pieces occupying the points on 
which the numbers are marked. The points to which the pieces are to be 

^^ lu thii codex, XIX 7. 87, are to be foaud uo ^acb beautiful chirograpby, no such 
brilliant illuminatione ai are to be seen In the earlier onee of which vre have been writing, 
bat It l« a piece of work of no little elegance, and, as has been stated in the text, of excel- 
lent editorship. It will always. In the shape In which we now see It, be of high Interest to 
the student of chess literature because of the " Complemeuto al codlce classe XIX. 7. 37 
della R. Biblioteca Naziouale Centrale dl Fireuze,** as he styles it, thoughtfully appended to 
It by Vou der Lasa, after one of his visits of research to Italy. It opens with a prefatory 
note written iu excellent Italian by himself, as follows: **II codlce chart. XIX. 7. 97 i 
alquanto incomplete. Dopo la carta 46 Tereo trovasi mancante un Intiero quiut«rno, e la 
numcrazione riprcude coUa carta 55 recto. Mancano anche due pagine lutorno la lOS^ earta. 
La nibliotcca Naziouale Centrale Vittorio Emanuele dl Roma possiede un codlce membr. 
u« S73 comploto e quasi cguale al fiortntino. Questo manoscritto 279 contlene 886 poalsionl 
del giuoco dl scacchi ed altre figure '^ tabularum et merellornm." Le posizioni aono le 
stesse come quelle sulle carte 8-151 terzo dol codlce di Firense, e possono snppllrne i nu- 
meri mancauti. Per altro i partitl florentiui dalla carta 15£^ alia 167^ verso, siceome 232 
recto-239 recto, uon caistcno nel manoscritto della Biblioteca Naziouale di Roma, nh pure 
in un codice membr. della mia biblioteca propria, escluslvamente destloata al gluoeo degli 
scacchi. II codice XIX. 7. 37, duuque, comprende piu degli altri." This is followed by 18 
chess-positions, with explanatory texti>, on 9 folios — the diagrams In blue and the lodieations 
of the pieces in red and black. The whole is a notable piece of work, carried out with all 
the writer's known lucidity and cxaetue.'s. At bottom of the reverse of the final folio is bla 
attestation and signature as well as the date: "Pro vera copla : Wiesbaden 18 Maggio 1891. 
Ueydebrand ud Lasa.** 1'he abbreviation after *' Ileydebrand " may be either ud (and der), 
or vd (von der), both of which, as the reader is aware would be proper and both of which 
he used. It need not be said that this " complemento " will greatly lighten the labour of 
future investigators. 



STRAY NOTES W9 



moved are often indicated, on the diagrams and in the doBcriptions, by let- 
ters as a, &, c, (black and red), generally of a Gothic (black-letter) form. 

We shall now again quote the opening lines of several of these solutions, 
to show their similiarity to those previously cited, and shall then call atten- 
tion to some of the technical words and phrases employed. The first problem 
(157a) begins with a brief introduction to the backgammon collection: ^Msta 
sunt partita tabularum/' and so on. In some, if not all of the descriptions, 
the player of the white {tu cum albis) is addressed. The text to the eighth 
position (160b) commences: ^^Iste ludus est optatiuus in tribus taxillis et 
quicquid facient albe facient et nigre, et albe stant quinque in domo sua, 
nigre in sua tres et vincunt albe. Prime de albis fac buf de quatern de 
tabula extrinseca...; '' then (163b) ^Mstud partitum est in sbaraille cum duo* 
bus taxillis et sex semper pro tertio, et prime trahunt albe et sunt omnes 
affldate et nigre non sunt affldate; '' (164a) *' Hie ludus est de nienoret in 
duobus taxillis;'' (170a) '*Istud partitum est de sbaraiW" (the word teoUa 
having been erased and sharaill inserted in its place by a later hand); (174a) 
'^Istud partitum est de menoret in uno taxillo tantum et uocatur le merlin^" 
(176a) ''Istud partitum est de testo in tribus Uxillis;'' (I78b) '< Istud parti- 
tum est de testa et luditur in tribus taxillis et est domus albarum vbi stant 
12 albe et domus nigre ubi stat sola alba et habent albe tractum et perdit 
nigra (f) ad fallum." (Now begins the play proper) ''Tu cum albis lude et 
denuda tot quot potes... ;" (180a) "In isto ludo trahunt nigre prime et est 
de testa cum tribus taxillis et veniet ilia extrinsect ut eleuentur;'' (180b) 
''Istud partitum est de testa et luditur cum tribus taxillis et habent nigre 
uicem et stant ad eleuandum et alba habet circuire tabulerium et eleuare 
sicut moris est. Vnde si non percutiet aliquam de nigris perdis sed nigre 
sunt priores quia ut plurimum accedit duo autas...;'' (181b) 'Mstud partitum 
est de la buf in duobus taxillis et est domus in punctis et introitus vbi sunt 
albe;'' (182b) ''Istud partitum est de la buf in duobus taxillis. Ponetes tres 
pro uno et pone unum pro tribus;" (183b) '* Istud partitum est de sbarail in 
duobus taxillis;" (184b) 'Ustud partitum est de sbaraillin in duobus taxillis 
et 6 semper pro 3° et habent nigre tractum;" (184b) "Omnius utriusque sunt 
affldate et est partitum de sbarail in tribus taxillis; " (185b) *' Istud partitum 
est de sbaril in tribus taxillis;" (188a) *' Istud partitum est delimperial in 
duobus taxillis et sex pro tertio ; " (189b) '* Istud partitum est de bethelas in 
tribus taxillis; " (190a) *' Istud partitum est ludo qui dicitur baldrac^ qui est 
ludus subtilis et non multum vsitatus" (the third letter in baldrac having 
been inserted by way of correction; (190b) " Istud partitum est de limperial;^'' 
(192b) ''Istud partitum est optatiuum et in tribus taxillis et luditur ad modum 
mincreii et nigre habent tractum." 

Much of this is repetition but it serves to show how similar are the two 
"Civis Bononiae" manuscripts, the Roman and the Florentine. The follow- 
ing names given to varieties will be observed: sbarail {sbaraill^ sbarit), 
coincident with the ''^ baraUe "' of the British Museum manuscript and the 
later Italian ^^sbaraglio;'" sbaraillin (pjobably the Italian ^^sbaraglino'"); 
testa {texta) merlin {le merlin); impericU {limperial) — reminding us of "empe- 
rador " and " imperial " in foreign codices; bethelas; baldrac (occurring among 
the Alfonsine names) ; minoretus (minoretum ?), the minoretto " of a sub- 
sequent period in north Italy); buf (la buf, to which we have frequently 
alluded). It is also to be noted that several of these names are preceded 

27 



210 CHESS IN ICELAND 



by a modern Romance article, as la buf^ limperial, le merlin, perhaps show- 
ing them to have originated in the vulgar speeclj. As to technical words 
in general we have gathered, in our hasty study, a good many which we 
give, wherever possible and necessary, with interpretations. We draw from 
all the Latin manuscripts here examined : affidatus, affidaii; albce (the white); 
amb as, ambas, amesas (double aces) ; as (ace) ; avantagium (advantage, better 
position); baldrac (a variety at backgammon); &ct/ieto (a variety at backgam- 
mon); buft la huf (a variety of backgammon), used also as a technical term 
in such phrases as buf de as, buf de du, buf de cine, buf de tenie, buf de 
quateme, buf de sin (sine), as facere buf de as ; cinCy cinque, cinques (five 
or fives); deus, du, duos (deuce, deuces); dotnus (home-board), as in donio (in 
the home board); elevare, ad elevatidum; ad fallum, d.s in perdere ad faUum; 
imperial (a variety of backgammon) ; introitus ; merlin, le merlin (a variety 
of backgammon); majoret, used technically as a contrast to minoret, as fa- 
cere minoret, facere majoret; minoret, menorel (a variety of backgammon, 
but used technically in facere minoret ; nigral (the hlsick) ; optcUivus; ad plenum; 
quater, quatre, quaterna, quatemes (four, fours); quines, quinqu^s (see cine); 
sbarail, sbaraill, sbaraille (a variety of backgammon); sbaraillin (a variety 
of backgammon played with two dice); sines, sanns; si, sex (six, sec also 
tertiumYi^ tabula (man, piece); tabulerium (board); taxillus {die); tertium in 
the phrases sex pro tertio, sex semper pro tertio, meaning that six or sixes 
are to be counted for a third (imaginary) die, when only two dice are 
actually used, as in {cmm) duobus taxillis et sex pro tertio; texta, testa, (a 
special torm of backgammon) ; tres, terz, terne, ternes (three, threes). Some 
of these words are cited from imperfect copies of extracts from the manu- 
scripts and are doubtless more or less inexact. 

In addition to the codices to be found in Italy from which we have 
already quoted, we ought to mention here the paper manuscript preserved 
in the great Florentine library, where it bears the press-mark XIX. 7. 51. 
It is a compilation in Italian, and can hardly be said to belong either to 
the " Bonus Socius *' or the ** Civis Bononise '* family. The most interesting 
description of its chess portion is that given by Von der Lasa ('* Oeschichte 
und literatur,'' pp. 163-165), who ascribes it to the beginning of the XVIth 
century, **oder mag ein wenig alter sein.'* He likewise, from the occurrence 
.of certain vocables, believes it to be of Tuscan origin. This codex is imperfect. 
It has chess diagrams on ff. 1 a — 149ab, with Italian descriptions below 
most of them, but the diagrams on ff. 25b-27b, 30a-50b are blank, and the 
problems ff. 146a, 147b, 148a-149b lack the descriptive solutions; f. 149 is 
followed by many unnumbered folios with blank chess diagrams. There- 
after come a numbered folio, 186a, with a 7-knights puzzle limited to the 9 
squares in a corner of the chessboard, and 186b with a 16-pawn8 problem; 
next we have 24 merelles positions with descriptions; and finally 10 (or 11?) 
problems at tables, only one accompanied by a descriptive solution, which 
is to be regretted because of the Italian technical terms thus missing. Von 
der Lasa specially mentions an example of the chess puzzle known as the 
**Knight*s tour'' on f. 28b as "das aiteste beispiel eines vollkommenen ros- 
selsprunges.'' The single problem in the section devoted to tables, which 
has an explanatory solution attached, has over the diagram a title which 
seems to read: "L'abbaco de fuorj." Copied as accurately as may be, the 
description is as follows: "Li bianchi sono in casa per leuarsi, et cosl li 



STRAY NOTES 211 



sej neri et hassi a rimetter quella che sta fuorj. Oiuocasi con tre dadj et 
hanno il tratto li neri, et ci6 che fanno li heri hanno a far li bianchi '' (a 
very common phrase this last in the Latin codices) **et vincere li neri per 
leuarsi prima che li bianchi et fa cosl. Con li neri chi hanno il tratto farai 
.6. et .2. rimettendo quelle che b fuora, et .2. leua quella che ^ in sul dua, 
li bianchi faranno duino et cinque et non potranno leuare nulla. Le neri di 
poi facciano terno et cinque levandoni 3. Li bianchi faranno il medesimo, 
et leueranno dua, et riferanno una, tu poi fa con le peri cinquino et sej, et 
leuansi tutti." This is probably the oldest bit of Italian, having to do with 
backgammon, to be found in Italy, but may be exceeded in age by the Italian 
passage now to be noticed. *» 

*^ Very lUtle baa hitherto been kuowa of Paolo Guarino (as the name atands Ui the rer- 
naenlar, a variant being *<Gueriui"), although he has long been recognised by the historians 
of chess letters a* the editor of an important and ^ell-made collection of seventy-six positions 
selected in 1518 from the Florentine manuscripts (see Von der Lasa*s **Zut gesrhiebte/* 
p. 166, and more particalarly Van der Linde's "Oeschichte/* II., pp. 295-7). Thanks, 
for the most part, to the researches of the learned Italian palscograpber, Dr. Giuseppe Mas- 
Katinti, professor In the royal lyceum at Forli and librarian of the Forliveae communal library, 
we are now, however, more or less familiar with some of the prominent Incidents of Gna* 
rino*s life. He was a roan of more than usual mark In his day and In the ancient provlnelal 
city in which be was born and resided, though descended from Bolognese ancestors. Besidea 
being a cultivator of general literature, he was an architect by profession, and, as anch, In 
a period of stress (1503), was one of the commission whieh superintended the task of strength* 
ening and otherwise improvlug the castle, or roecOj of Forli, which was, at the same timSi 
the chief feature In the works defending the city, and the abode of its princes. He after- 
wards (1517) furnished a plan for the erection of a notable church (S. Michole de' BattatI 
Kussl) In his native city. Guarino also understood and practised the art of printing — not 
an ordinary accompliahmeut in that remote trans-apennine region in the closing years of 
the XVth century. To him Is owing the issue of the first book printed at Forli, a work of 
unique typographical interest, the singular story of which can be told here only In the barest 
outline. It seems that Nicola Feretti (Nicholau Ferrettua), a pupil of those three great human- 
Uts, Valla, Fllulfo and Lasoarls — himself, later, the head of a widely-renowned school of 
grammar at Venice — resided for a while at Forli, and there composed a treatise, '*De ele* 
gantia linguae latinae,** subsequently published both at Paris (without date) and at Venice 
(1507). But its earliest edition saw the light at Forli, being, as we have hinted, the first 
production of the then comparatively new art in that town. It is a thin quarto, printed on 
rather heavy paper, consisting ot 80 unnumbered folios, the expressed signatures extending 
from a it to e Hi, having a page composed of 40 to 48 lines (usually not exceeding the former 
number), and closing with a printer's mark occupying nearly all the available spaoe of the 
final pa^e. This last, like so many of the kind In that and the following age In Italy, was 
made up of a double cross surmounting a eircular design, with the initials P O [= Paolo 
Guarino] above the circles on the left side, and I I B [= Joaunea Jacobus do Benedlciis] In 
the same position at the right. Below, in the corners, arc tke inUiaU C O [CsB^ar Octavla- 
nus?]. In the colophon, on the obverse of the final folio, the book is said to be Issued 
"Optra dc impSsa Pauli guarlnl do guarinis Foroliuifisis *' [that is. In the vulgar, Paolo 
Guarino de*Ouarini of Forli — the form of the name indicating tho nobility of the bearer] 
*'& loanis laeobl de Benedictis Bononlensis Impressorls : et socii : hoc opus est Inipres- 
sum Forliuii : emendatum uero per ipsum auctorem : ut apparet iu eiusdem epistola : in fine 
secundi librl: Anno fldei ehristiane, M . COCC . L xxxx V . xvi klSdas Mall.*' From all thia 
we deduce that Paolo Guarinl was the publisher, at whose expense the work was done by 
the printer (tmpressor) from Bologna, Giovanni Jacopo de Benedictis (or dc* Benedetti), with 
other associates (e< socii =" and company**); that tho press was at Forli (ForlMi); that 
Ferettl's manuscript had been corrected by his own hand, " as appears from hia letter at 
the end of the second book *' (the treatise being in thrve books); and that the printing was 
completed May 16, 149.^. So far there Is nothing extraordinary in the matter. Guarino had 
evidently Induced a Bolognese printer to come and establlnh himself at Forli, had united 
with others In au attempt to make the novel undertaking successful, and had assumed the 
general direction of the affair. For its first work the new priutlng-oflBce had recaived from 
some source (apparently from the author hlmaelO the manuscript of Feretti, and bad entered 



212 CHESS IN ICELA ND 



We return to our consideration of the "Civis Bononiae'^ collection; and 
this is, therefore, the place to mention another fragment of an Italian version 
of this second great compilation (or, as Van der Linde will have it, of the 
'* second edition '' of the '* Bonus Socius '' work). In the British Museum 
there is a quarto manuscript volume containing three very different treatises, 
the second one being a transcript of the Latin ** Civis Bononiee " (Additional 
MSS 9351, lettered on the back: "Tractatus varil de ludis etc.''). There is 
little that is attractive about the transcript. Its chirography is poor and 
- its paper of a very ordinary sort. The diagrammed positions of the three 

in s^ood earnent upon the task of making lu existence felt. Now comes the remarkable part 
of the tale. A very few daya after the appearance of the Issue of the "De elegantia" bear* 
ing the name of Guarino in Its imprint, another edition of the same treatise comes out from 
another preu in the very same town, but differing greatly from the preceding one In ita 
typography. It was likewise in quarto, in the Latin type, embracing 28 unnumbered folios, 
the printed signatures running from a ii to ii, each page having Its 4U to 48 Ilnea (ordina- 
rily limited to the former number) ; but it was printed In type of a notably different face, 
and had at the end no veritable printer*s mark. Unlike the Issue of Goarlno It Is adorned 
with two very striking cuts, taken from Venetian works of a little earlier date, one on ita 
first, the other on its last page. The first represents a professor seated, in the middle 
background, on his cathedra, a large book resting on a table in flrout of him, engaged In 
lostrneting a body of students In hoods and robes, which Is divided Into two groups, seated 
on benches on either hand, before each group being a low desk, on which books rest, while 
two boys, holding books, are placed on stools in the foreground, with a dog (eat 7) seated 
between them ; the other eut, on the reverse of tho final folio ~- possibly It may be intended 
to serve as a printer's mark — precedes the eolophon and depicts, In the central background, 
a bill, surmounted by a temple or other structure, at the left of the summit a group of three 
standing female figures, one crowned, on the right a group of three cattle, while In the mid- 
dle foreground Is taking place a cumbat between a man and a centaur. Furthermore, this 
edition Is dissimilar to the elder one In having many Florentine chapter-initials instead of 
the small spaces left for the Insertion of hand-made (Illuminated) Initials as in Its predeees- 
sor, in its numerous printed marginal* references, and in its frequent employment of the 
paragraph-sign (((). The newer edition has one considerable omission. This Is la the se- 
cond epistle to Octavlan, ruler of Fori!,, placed at the end of the second book, nearly two 
pages of matter falling out (between the words Ci ualde placebit and Felix tU opto Princ^*) 
— an exclusion which seems to Indicate that the author had little (or at any rate less) to do 
with the issue eoming f^om the more recent and rival establishment. The colophon of this 
edition reads thiu : ** CL Hoo opus est Impressnm Forlivil per me Hieronymum Medesannm 
Parmensem : nouiter^ p ipsum Auctorem eorreptum aditum 9t emeadatum Anno domiai 
. M . oocOLXxzxY . die uero .xxv. Mai Kegnante IIlustrTssimo Prlcipl noetro domino Oetaolano 
de Rlarlo: ac luclito domiuo Tarobo Pheo guberuatorl dignitlssimo.** — the governor Gia- 
como Feo here cited, it may be well enough to say, was slain this very same year (14M), 
on account of a false suspicion of treason. It will thus be seen that the printer of this 
edition is from Parma, bis name, in Its vernacular form, being, perhaps, GIrolamo Mode- 
sano; and that the date, " .xxv. Mai," is here substituted for '* xvi klSdas Mai,'* of the 
other issues, the month and year being the same In both editions. Tbe explanation* of this 
singular typographical pussle must be left to the further researches of Italian bibllogra' 
phers. The sole library, so far as we know, In which both of these rare impressions are 
to be found Is thst of the British Museum. The only other printed work with whieb tbe 
name of Paolo Guarino is in any way associated, is an important document ("diploma'*) 
executed by him In an Impression of 500 copies for the dissolute Cesar Borgia, whose one 
redeeming quality, as In the ease of his even more infamous sister, was a willing pMro- 
nage of letters and lettered men. This bore, as there is reason to believe, the name or 
other sign-manual of Guarino, and was dated at Forli, December SI, 1600, indicating the 
eontinued existence, five years later than the appearance of Ferettl's tractate, of Onarlno*a 
Forliyese press, whether meanwhile active or not. No copy Is now known, but an aeeoant 
of it is given by the chroaleler Bernardi (I. f. S58 a). In the prevlona year another 
striking event In the life of Guarino oeeurred. The real rnling power in Forli, at th&t 
date, was tbe celebrated Caterina 8forsa — whose ejtreer Is the theme of one of tke ableet 
of reeent Italian biographies — a natural daughter of QaleaKso, duke of Milan; she bad 



STRAY NOTES ' 213 



games are in black and faded red, occupying the lower halves of the pages, 
having the explanatory solutions above them. Each page contains two prob- 
lems side by side, and, of course, two paragraphs of descriptive text. Folios 
8-10, 17-35 (according to the numeration, which is very recent, ff. 11-16 are 
lacking^ but there is nothing to show that the numeration itself is not er- 
roneous) are occupied by the tables positions ; flf. 36-48 by those at merelles, 
and ff. 49-69 by those at chess. At the beginning of this last section, in a 
comparatively modern hand, is written a date which Von der Lasa gives as 
1466, but which, whatever it may be, seems to be of little value. The binding 

eapotxMd Qirolamo Riarlo, lord of Forli and ImoU — nominally a nephew but really a eon 
of tb« avarieloni and wealthy pope, Sixtiie IV— and wai married later In life to QloTamil 
d«* Modlei. By Girolamo she had aiz children, the eldest of whom, Ootavlaut had, la name 
at least, Haeeeeded to his father's principality. The second, Cesare, through the persuasive 
efforts of his mother, was designated In January 1499 by that wickedest of all the popes, 
Alexander VI, to the elevatod office of archbishop of Pisa, and Paolo Giiarino was selected 
to accompany the new prelate to his s«« In the high eapaelty of seneschal. Cesare was only 
nineteen years of age and could therefore hardly be regarded as a venerable eeeleaiastioal 
dignitary, bat Cateriua, in her letter to the head of the church, had commended bim as 
**pieno dl ognl rlrtb e modestia.** He ultimately received the title of bishop of Malaga 
(1518) and closed a peaceable life some years later at Padova. Ouarlno soon returned to 
his home. In 1509 be was sent by the maglstraoy of Fori! on a mission to the cardinal 
legate, or pivpal governor of Romagna — the holder of an ofllee which, some months later, 
was conferred on cardinal de* Medici, afterwards the brilllaut pope Leo X — " d' onde tornarA 
eon patenti favoreuoli.'* In 151S —the very year in which Ouarlno was at work at his 
" Liber de partltia scaeeorum *' — the horrors of real war were raging In his native region, 
la wkieh Freneb and Spanish, papal and other Italian troops were taking part. The French, 
who bad followed to Italy that renowned general, Gaston de Foix, duke of Kemours, had, 
by their threatened movements, led to the flight of a large portion of the wealthier inhabi- 
tants of Porli. But a few of the patriotic leaders of the people remained. A French oom- 
misiener suddenly vlelted the city and demanded an Immediate supply of stores, for the nse 
of the not very distant French camp, from the already impoverished cltlisens. The few no- 
table deniiens still within the walls, among them " Scr Paolo Goerrinl," as he Is styled by 
the narrator of the event, assembled for deliberation, but were rood satisfied that the sup- 
plies asked for must be forthcoming in order to avoid the destruction of their homes. Gua- 
rino was appointed a commissioner to arrange, with the aid of another member of the 
small company, the difficult affair, which he did with so mueb energy and taet that the 
town was finally saved from the menaced danger. This good citisen was blessed, we are 
told with an amiable and intelligent wifi*, Maddalena, daughter of Antonio Ostoll, who bore 
him two sons and three daughters. He was an intimate friend of the chronicler, Andrea 
Beraardl, (called '^Novaenla** after the manner of his day), whose *' Cronaobe forliveai" 
finally beoaiae aceeeslble to the reading world, edited by G. Mazsatluti, ia the edition of 
Bologna 1895-6 (in three, or, titnlarly, two volumes). Not a few mentions of his friend occur 
in its pages. Bernardl left a number of volumes by will to Ouarlno, who, as we shall see, 
WAS a great collector of whatever bore upon the history of Forll. Gnarino must have been 
likewise knows to Leandro Albert!, author of the " Deacrlttlone dl tutta Italia," the flret 
edition of which Is of Belogna 1&&0, but which remained, for more than a century, the ehlef 
authority on Italian topography. In that earliest impression Alberti gives us the date of 
Gaarino*s demise, with a pleasant characterisation of his character and pursuits (f. 280, obv.): 
" Pass6 nell* anno 1590 k meglior uita Panolo GnirIno p suoi autcnati Bolognese, huoroo dl 
dolcissimo Ingegno h melto arbaao & ciuile. i£t bencho non hauesse gran oenoscenta di 
lettere latino, nondlmeao riport6 assal lodo de i uersi uolgarl, de li quali molto se delattaoa 
c5 Maddalena sua am&tisslmo cSeorte. Molto s* affatic6 in raccogliere le cose memorabill di 
Forii c5e dalli librl da lui seritti, conoscere si pu6.** Of his Italian poetry (if any) and of the 
historical works of Ouarlno, here recorded, we have no nearer knowledge. Some ef them 
may still exist, hidden away In one or more of the eld libraries or archives of Romagaa. 
Another historical work, the '* SeppleoMato istorieo dell' antlea cittA di Forll " of Slgl- 
smondo MarchesI (Forli 1578), also contains allusions to Guarino, of which we have already 
availed ourselves. The volume gives a representation of the Gnarino arms (p. 281), which 
are desoribod as **eampo d* oro, aqoHa aera, [S] fkeele nere. " 



214 CHESS IN ICELAND 



of the treatise on games has pretty certainly left its throe divisions wrongly 
placed. This is shown not only by the position of tho above-mentioned date, 
but also by tho circumstance that the six Latin " Civis Bononiae " verses, 
containing the enigmatical lines referring to the author's name, are on f. 
49a, the first chess page. Evidently the order should be: chess, backgammon, 
merelles. The tables or backgammon subdivision starts with '* [IJsta sunt 
partita tabularum/' and includes 44 positions. Turning over the leaves 
we observe the names of the varieties of the game with no marked diver- 
gencies from those to be found in the Florence and Roman exemplars. Tho 
descriptions begin as usual: ** Iste Indus est de testa'* (in one place " de la 
texta'"); " Istud partitum est de sbarelle'* (elsewhere written sharaile and 
sbaraill)\ " Istud partitum est de minoret;'" " Istud partitum est de huff"' 
(elsewhere *' de la buff" ); and thereafter occur likewise bethelas and limperiaL 
On f. 31b the opening of the text is: **Istud ludus est partitum qui dicitur 
baldrac,"' and on f. 23a : " Iste ludus est ualde deceptorius.,' The familiar 
phrases recur: '* facient albe buff/' "buff das'' (deas), "buffdedu," "buff 
de teme," "buff de quaterne," "buff desinne," "optativus;" "sex semper 
pro tertio;" " perdere ad fallum," and so on. But the main feature of this 
manuscript to us is that the final ten descriptive solutions (ff. 33a-35b) are 
in Italian ; they are most likely added to this manuscript by later hands, and 
go far to prove that it is a copy (of an early " Civis Bononiae" manuscript) 
made in Italy. The first of these texts commences: "Li rossi sono octo el 
nigri sono tre aminoreto [a minorretto] curto cum [sic] tre dacy ; " another 
one opens thus: "Questo e un partita da tauole che se fa aminoret da tre 
dadj ;" and we likewise have: "Questo 6 giocho de sbaraino." The expression 
minoreto curto has, very likely, the signification of the German " das kurze 
puff," of which we shall read hereafter. Among the technical terms are " buff 
d'assi," "ambassi," duino," etc. The last two Italian descriptions are in a 
hand differing from any found elsewhere in the manuscript. Von der Lasa 
merely alludes to this paper codex (p. 152), and Van der Linde (" Quellenstu- 
dien," pp. 180-181) has a somewhat longer report of it, reproducing (pp. 181- 
182) seven of its chess positions. 

Just as the writing of this portion of the present work is in progress, 
another venerable literary monument devoted to the triad of mediaeval games 
has been passing through a London auction chamber— certainly one of the most 
beautiful of these old codices on vellum. Aside from the worth of its contents 
it possesses a high value as a specimen of the art of the XlVth century, a 
fact shown by the great price given for it. It was sold, concurrently with 
the rest of the library formerly belonging to Sir Andrew Fountaine of Narford 
Hall, in the English county of Norfolk, by whom it was brought together 
during the reigns of queen Anne and king George II. Even the chess portion 
of this piagnificent production has never been adequately described. Van 
der Linde's description (" Quellenstudien," p. 186) hardly covers fifteen lines, 
and is accompanied by references to two of the positions included in its 
pages; Von der Lasa's account ("Zur geschichte," pp. 141-2) is no longer, 
although he cites one problem, the common possession of this and two other 
early authorities (p. 149). Von der Lasa had especial opportunity for its 
study by means of Mr. John G. White's transcript. He considers its language 
to be a dialect similar to those prevalent in Normandy and Picardy in the 
Old-French period. The pal»ographers speak of it, with some vagueness, as 



STRA Y NOTES 215 



Anglo-Norman work. Von der Lasa states that it belongs to the *^ Bonus 
Socius '' group, but is in error when he says that *' Im Fountaine MS fehlt 
der Anfang/' He derived this impression from the fact that the beautiful 
large illuminated initial, with which its text begins, occupies an unusual 
position above the text, the letter proper being indeed at the upper right 
hand corner; it is a C, noticeable enough when regarded with care, but con- 
cealed by its unusual position and by the fashion of the marginal arabesques 
connected with and springing out of it, similar to those which adorn very 
many of the subsequent (chess) paginal margins. Van der Linde apparently 
understood this matter rightly, for he gives the opening lines of the manu- 
script, initial and all: " Chil dor traient primiers & uellent matter (mate) 
les rouges a deus traits ne plus ne moins, preng les ruges a defTendre car il 
ne le puent fair." The chess descriptive text begins (after the first page) on 
the right margin of the page close beside the problem, and runs down below 
it on the lower portion of the page. The backgammon position is always at 
the top of the page and the whole of the descriptive solution below it— no 
part of the text being marginal. The exterior lines or frames of all the 
diagrams are in gold, the men in red and gold. Each description commences 
with a handsome two-coloured (blue and red, or gold and pale blue or lilac) 
illuminated initials —some of them quite large -- while the ground tone both 
of the backgammon and morris boards is a deep blue. The chess portion 
extends from f. la to 144b, while f. 145a has an incomplete blank diagram 
and f. 146b a complete vacant one. These leaves are followed by the 22 
folios of the backgammon division, comprising 44 positions, the volume ending 
with 14 folios devoted to the morris game, the text of this latter beginning 
on the reverse of the first morris folio, the problems filling ff. 2a-14a, the 
final page being wholly blank; thus the morris positions number 25 in all. 
The text of the initial backgammon position is (except where errors 
occur in the present copy,) as follows: **Cis gius est de letiest [testa or texta] 
et souhaidans en iii des fdicej et dient celles dor, f= d*or, of goldj q elles 
leueront toutes de uant che qles rouges soient hors cest en atiauent chelles 
dor pmers et les rouges seront che meisme q celles dor et se les rouges 
le pcrdent aucu point quelles ne puissent toudis faire tout le giu al dor le 
uolient perdre tu auoec celles dor le fai .du. et as. et leaieme de un quaerne 
il fera un quaerne deus et as et tu deus et ambcs .as. enferant les sienes 
atout le trait et il cecemeisme. hoste lune en ferant lune des sienes et fai 
deus et ambes .as. et il ce meisme tu feras le siene par deus et laut e feras 
en fasant ambes as et en desleueras une ct en uiant ensi tu iporas ueoir 
coumcnt tu les elleueras toutes deuant que nulles des rouges pinstissir et 
leuenteras.'' As the reader will see, the copy of the text hero made is more 
or less defective; nor have we attempted to supply punctuation. "Celles 
d'or'* and **les rouges" indicate the men of the two different colours— 
**gold" and **red" being equivalent to the. "black" and "white" of our 
less resplendent days. The text of the second position commences: "Ciste 
[elsewhere written ceste] partiure est de la tieste asouhaidier et celles dor 
ct les rouges sunt e leur masons cest leur sunt esleuees et ont primiers 
celles dor .ii. trais en souhaidans;" this same paragraph of the text con- 
cludes: "fera buffo de as ensi quil viut et tu enco buffe de as et il ausi... et 
elleueras buffe de sinnes et le uenkeras." The description of the course 
of play in the fourth position opens with; ^Cis gins est sanlaules" [this 



216 CHESS IN IC BLAND 



word occurs elsewhere, is it the name of a variety 1J, that of the fifth prob- 
lem thus : *' Celles dor sunt en leur maison et traient priniiers et ne feront 
onkes fors buffe de as en .iii. des et li rouge ne fera onkes fors buffe de 
quaernes;'* of the eleventh: '*Ciste partiure est de barill en ii des et vi pour 
le tieir;" of the twelfth: *'Ci8 gius est de minoret en ij des souhaidans/' 
and later on is found the translation of the Latin perdere ad falsuniy '*et li 
taule dor ne le piert une ale falle tu prenderas les rouges/' and still further 
in the same description we read: 'Uu endescouueras .iij. per ambes as et 
le tierc et feras...;'' of the thirty- fourth: "Chi commencent les partures 
agieter les des et gieton trois des en ceste parture et uollent celles dor pas- 
ser et alle toutentour le taulier et reuenir en .a.;'* of the forty -third: "Ce- 
ste parture est sanlaule (1) a deus deuant le dairaine et est dele tiest/' As 
to the signification of the verb souJiaidei' (or souheidier) occurring here, 
Littr^ hardly defines it very clearly in its backgammon sense. He cites the 
following early illustration: "On en puet juer [du jeu des tables] en deux 
mani^res, c'est a savoir por souhaidier de la langue, et par gieter les d^s/' 
It is to be noted that the Fountaine Manuscript gives us few names of back- 
gammon varieties, the principal, if not only ones being harUl (that is "sba- 
raiil,'* "baraiie'* or "sbaraglio"), and menoret. Among the technical terms 
are the usual huffe des as, buffe de deus^ buffe de tiemeSj buffe de quatemes* 
buffe de sines [sinnes) ; mosons {maisons); ambes as; iaule; taulier; perdue 
afalle; cine; quines; elleuer; buffer (verb) and others. 

Here we finish our lamentably insufficient notes on the backgammon 
portions of some of these remarkable manuscripts, which, with the other 
analogous ones, not noticed in these pages, form the most splendid literary 
productiops having to do with the history and practice of social games. It 
is to be hoped that they may all speedily pass through the hands of some 
investigator having the intelligence and the leisure to thoroughly examine 
what we have treated so hastily, so scantily and so superficially, and who 
will be in a position to compare with care each one with every other. We 
have glanced merely at a few of them, not even including all which are 
preserved in the libraries of Italy and England, and leaving those contained in 
the book-collections of France, Spain and Germany virtually unnoticed. It 
must likewise be remembered that we have given little attention to the parts 
of these codices devoted to the morris game ; that wide field is still unexplored. 
Even the philological results of systematic researches among these singular 
memorials of an earlier age would amply repay the student for his labor; 
and a not unimportant chapter might thereby be added also to the story of 
medieval art. 

Between the latest of these vellum codices, preserved in the great central 
libraries of the peninsula, and the earliest printed Italian work relating 
exclusively or principally to backgammon, we have a period of at least three 
centuries. The early issue of the peninsular press referred to is a little 
book, which, although it went through four editions — perhaps more — has 
now become so rare, in the country which produced it, that scarcely one 
of the book-collections of Italy possesses a copy. The little work comes 
from the land's northern provinces, and was written, il we are to judge 
by the date attached to its preface, in or before the year 1604. It is en- 
titled : " II nobile et dilettevol givoco del sbaraglino. Dato in luce da M. 
Mauritio Bartinelli Cittadino da Nouarra. Con alcune nuove regole. Q In 



STRA Y NOTES 217 



Venetia, M. DC. LXIX. Presso Gio. Pietro Bigonci. — Con licenza de' Su- 
perior!, e Priuilegio. Si vende k San Lio.'' Because of the excessive rarity 
of the volume, and because there is no adequate description of it in any of 
the bibliographies, we have transcribed its title-page in full. The edition 
before us is perhaps the latest one. The vignette after the line Con alcvne 
nvove regole, which is all in capitals, is one of those hard, conventionalized 
vases of flowers, containing an equally conventionalized rose-bush bearing 
five blossoms of varying sizes, such as are common enough in Venetian XVIIth 
century typography. The signatures of the duodecimo volume are two com- 
plete ones (A, B), and the numbered pages 41, followed by six unnumbered 
ones. The reverse of the title-folio is blank, and on the next (third) page 
begins the " proemio,'* which is a preliminary and somewhat ornate bit of 
philosophization on games in general and backgammon in particular, in the 
course of which, in accordance with the habit of the age, several of the Latin 
poets are cited, one of them being the " poeta Veronese" (Catullus), to 
say nothing of Galen and Aristotle. The author's comparison between the 
game he is writing about and other social sports is diverting: we reproduce 
it in full, forming, as it does, the larger part of the *' proemio " (pp. 4-6) : 
^^ M^ si come b diffcrenza tr& huomini nobili, e ignobili, cosl anco deue 
esser distintione de' giuochi k loro quasi appropriati, h piu a quelli, che k 
questi congruent!, <& anco vn giuoco per sua natura dcue maggiore, e minor 
lode meritare. Galeno prencipe de* Medici lod6 assai il giuoco della palla, 
riguardando al beneflcio corporale, che da esso ne segue, & veramente il 
giuoco di palla b da csscr lodato, benche adesso per la gran poltroneria 
nata per V otio ne gli huomini sij questo giuoco non molto in vso, perch^ ^ 
laborioso, ma perch6 non conuiene in ogni tempo, come subito dopo 11 
cibo; n6 k donne, nb k vecchi, che pur lor anco hanno bisogno di trastullo 
honorato, e perch6 6 commune k fanciuUi, e serui, bisogna vedere, se vi fe 
altro giuoco piu lodeuole. Place k molti il giuoco de gli Scacchi, ma contro 
ogni ragione, essendo quelle troppo occupatiuo della mente, e ricercando 
grandissimo studio, & attentione, talche non merita di essere annouerato 
irk giuochi, ina piu presto fr^ V alte occupation! & imbrogli di ceruello. II 
giuoco dcUe carte b strapacciato insino da famigli di stalle, e da ciabatini. 
Quello de' dadi similmente ; cd'c di sola fortuna, n6 ha virtu seco mista, 
laonde non conuiene, nb k nobili, ne a Religiosi, i quali in ogni loro attione 
deuono haucrc la virtu compagna. Gli altri giuochi sono piu presto 6 pue- 
rili, 6 donncschi, che altramento ; siche vengo a concludere, che solo il 
giuoco detto Sbaraglino sij perfetto giuoco, e conueniente ad ogni nobile 
intelletto, primieramente perch6 non 6 giuoco troppo occupatiuo, ma allegro, 
vario, e pieno di trastullo; dipoi perche non b di mera fortuna, m^ misto 
d' ingegno, e d'arte, e la fortuna \"b solamente come materia del giuoco, 
r arte, & il discorso conic forma, e perchfe ben disse Aristotile Filosofo, che, 
n forma demoniari vnumquodque iusturn est ; perci6 non si deue questo 
giuoco dimandar di fortuna, ma d' ingegno, e quindi si pu6 permettere anco 
a' Religiosi, perche i dadi, che in esso si trouano, e che sono prohibit! 
da' Sacri Canoni non sono puri dadi, ma solamente come dicono i Logici, 
malerialiier, e pcrchfe dalla materia non si giudica assolutamente tale, ma 
dalla forma piu presto come per auttorita d' Aristotile, pur hora abbiamo 
di sopra accennato, perci6 non si deue dire, che quel giuoco sij giuoco de' dadi 
ma d' arte di condurre in campo aperto vna quantity di tauole, e flnalmente 

28 



218 CHESS IN ICELAND 



di cauarle innanzi, che V auuersario caui le sue. Non 6 anco questo giuoco 
puDto laborioso, perch^ s' esercita sedendo, e non h giuoco, con che si possi 
facilmente ingannare il compagno, perch6 6 apertissimo, b sbarrato, e perci6 
si chiama Sbaraglino da quattro campi sbarrati, ch'in esso sono. Si che 
da tutti questi capi da noi commemorati si pu6 raccorre la dignita, Thone- 
stli, e nobilUi di questo giuoco, dalla quale io sono state sospinto k fare gli 
seguenti trattati, e dalla beneuolenza de galant* huomini sar^ cortesemente 
riceuuto il tutto/' It will be seen that the condemned games are ball, chess, 
cards and dice — by the last being meant the casting of dice (" mains "), 
an affair of pure chance, unmixed with any element of skill. Notable is 
the statement that ^^ chess pleases many, but without any reason, since it 
keeps the mind too much occupied, and demands the greatest study and 
attention, so that it is really not to be reckoned among games but among 
elevated exercises and bewilderments of the brain.'* 

It is worth while, here, to observe in what ways the writer's favorite 
game excels all others. After telling us that cards are played by only the 
lower conditions of men (**by households inhabiting stables and by cob- 
blers''), while the game of dice is not fitting either for the noble or the 
clerical classes, the author asserts that "Other games" than those he has 
mentioned "are mostly either puerile or effeminate; therefore I conclude 
that only the game called Sbaraglino is a perfect diversion, adapted to every 
lofty intellect, firstly because it is not a sport which strains the mental 
powers, but is cheerful, varied, diverting; nor is it a mere game of chance, 
but is blended with ingenuity and skill, its turns of fortune to be regarded 
solely as incentives to play." Then he introduces a bit of ratiocination 
from Aristotle, aided by which he endeavors to argue that as "this game 
does not depend so much on chance as cleverness, it may, therefore, be per- 
mitted to clerics, because the dice, which are a part of it, are not purely 
and really dice, such as arc prohibited by the sacred canons, but only dice, 
as the logicians say, mater ialiter, and one does not judge, as Aristotle 
authoritatively declares, by the mere material form, but by the actual na- 
ture. Thus we ought not to say that this is a dice game, but a diversion 
consisting in the art of conducting into an open field a quantity of men 
{tauo!e)^ and finally of pushing them forward {cauarle innanzi) as the advers- 
ary pushes his. Nor is this game at all laborious, since it is played sitting; 
and it is not one at which a player easily deceives his opponent, since every- 
thing is open and above board {apertissiyno) and in no wise barred, sealed 
or concealed {sbarrato); hence it is styled sbaraglino from the four unbarred 
or free fields, into which the board is divided. From the arguments which 
we have thus put forward may be deduced the dignity, nobility and honesty 
of this diversion, by which qualities I have been impelled to compose these 
essays, and on account of which this book will be kindly and courteously 
received by all worthy and gentle men." Then follows the date of compo- 
sition, as we have said, namely, "L'anno 1604, il di ultimo d'ottobre." 
The recorded editions— there may have been more— have the dates of Ber- 
gamo 1607, Milano 1619, Venetia 1631, all preceding the one lying before us. 
The public library of Novara possesses that of 1619, but we know not where 
copies of those of 1607 and l()3l are to be found. Bartinelli was a surgeon 
of repute, and left behind him a manuscript work containing acute obser- 
vations on matters connected with his profession, and on certain natural 



STRAY NOTES 219 



curiosities. A very brief notice of him is inserted in Lazzaro Agostino 
Cotta's "Museo novarese'' (Milano 1701, p. 232, no. 462). 

After the "procmio'' succeeds the "trattato primo, *' commencing with 
"regola prima'' and concluding with regola IX (pp. 7-12). This division 
embraces little relating to actual play, but much good advice, in a general 
way, set off by many references to old and modern writers such as 
Probus, the "poeta Ferrarese,'' the ** poeta Venusino '' and others. The 
player is counselled, first of all, to see that the instruments with which he 
plays are solid and proper. In *' regola Iir* the writer shows us that he is 
not altogether in favor of the modern custom of using diceboxes, for which 
there would seem, as yet, to have been no very distinctive technical term, 
but inclines to the old method of casting the dice from the hand as more 
fair— -a point to which we have already briefly alluded elsewhere. He treats 
the subject thus: "K opinione de' moderni giuocatori, cho sij cosa sicura 
in questo giuoco lo adoprare non le semplici mani, ma certi vasetti di legno 
che chiamano canelli. Questa opinione h^ bisogno di correttione, dico adun-. 
que, che i canelli hanno da essere larghi nel fondo, accioche i dadi si pos- 
sino iui bene riuolgersi, altramente con quelle aspetto, che vi si metteranno 
dentro in quelle usciranno, e scoprirassi il punto, e cosl Tastuto, e scal- 
trito auuersario si seruir^ della sua malitia centre di te ; Bisogna anco fare, 
che r auuersario scuota, e dimeni i dettl canelli, perche alcuni ne h6 visti 
de' giuocatori con destrezza metter i dadi ne' i canelli con fargli pianamente 
scorrere, 6 sdrucciolare giu per il legno, e mostrando di scuotergli non gli 
scuotere, e cosl tirare il punto disegnato con riuersare i canelli destra- 
mente. " In subsequent '* rules" we learn that no one should engage in the 
game ** except with a mind calm, serene and cheerful;" that he should never 
move hastily; that he must have abundance of patience; that he should 
practice a moderate boldness ; and that a man of melancholic or mercurial 
temperament should never play in the presence of many spectators. He 
ends with the malicious advice that players giving odds should endeavour 
to complicate the game, so that they may win of their inexpert opponents 
('*Chi giuocasse con vno inesperto, dandogli auantaggio, se vorrii piii si- 
curo, che sia possibile, vincer, cerchi di intorbidare, intricare, A imbrogliare 
il giuoco, perchd k ridurre in termini il giuoco trauagliato si ricerca gran 
maestria, e methodo, che non ha T inesperto"). 

The *'trattato secondo" (pp. 13-28) offers us 26 "regole." These are 
intended to be practical counsels, but are often somewhat vague, since they 
are not illustrated by diagrams. In the first rule, which we translate en- 
tire, we have a description of the board, some elementary instruction, and 
a few lines bearing upon the history of the gaide: **It being our task to 
lay down the necessary rules of this game, called Sharaglino^ we will first 
explain its nature. It is practiced, then, usually, upon two attached squares 
of wood, which may be opened and closed, and these are subdivided into 
four fields (cawipt), each field having six white points {segni) drawn in the 
shape of half rapiers. There are employed in the game thirty men, fifteen 
black and fifteen white, placed on the two penultimate points of the second 
field towards (verso) the third, and he who has the move, or as the Bre- 
scians say **the hand" (to mano), that is, he who is to play first, has his 
men on the anterior point; he will also keep one of them on his fourth, 
with which be can afterwards cover one of the others, [placed singly, and 



220 CHESS IN ICELAND 



establish a point (fa casa) in the third field; casa means nothing else than 
two men, at least, covered or doubled or united on one of the points {segnC^ 
described. When the men are exposed, that is, when they stand alone — not 
doubled (coppiaii) and united — they can be hit by the adversary {poasono toe- 
care delle picchiate dcUV auuersario) ; then, by the laws of the game, the 
pieces which have been hit are replaced in the first field, and must thus 
return afterwards towards the fourth. The game which the Spanish play 
on the same board (in questo tauogliero) is, in form, distinct from this, 
although the same pieces arc used and the same dice; it is called toccadi- 
glio, Difitirent also is that in use in the Romagna, which is there styled 
minoreito. But that which is known as sbaroglio [sic] is in no other 
wise difl'erent from sbaraglino except that in the latter two dice are cast, 
and a supposed third die is always added to the throw, counting six; but 
in the former three dice are employed, and no six is computed unless It 
is included in the throw. The victory in this game consists in having first 
thrown off (leuato) the men from the fourth field after all shall have been 
brought therein in accordance with the points shown in throwing the dice. 
To introduce them into the fourth field, passing them through the third, the 
first rule demanded by the game, and which is always to be observed, even 
until the game has progressed to its end, is (unless it be contravened by 
some of the rules hereinafter noted down) that everything shall be covered 
as far as possible, and that the men shall be guarded from ^'hits,*' because, 
when hit, they are obliged to go back and undertake again a long journey, 
thus retarding their entrance into the fourth field, and therefore their 
throwing off — whence may proceed the loss of the game. It is seen from 
experience that a player with two protected points — not liable to be hit — 
but hitting the blots of his adversary, having men on four points, will 
enter first into the fourth field and win the game; therefore everything de- 
pends on keeping the points protected. '* It is from this paragraph that the 
older Italian lexicographers have drawn their statement that toccadiglio is 
Spanish, when it pretty surely is not, and their explanations of the words 
minoreito, sbaroglio and sbaraglino. The distinction in the meaning of the 
two last vocables appears to go back to the XlVth century manuscripts. 
We have not been able to find that the word mano is used at the present 
time in the district of Brescia in the sense of *'move.'* But there is no 
doubt that many a ray of light could bo thrown on the history of table- 
games by a careful study of the Italian dialects. It would be interesting 
for instance, to be able to confirm the Romagna origin of minoretto, so 
often used by the ^^Civis Bononise,"' himself a citizen of that province. 

We will also render literally a portion of " regola II," to give a further 
idea of the style; ** At the beginning of the game one ought to seek to 
establish some points {far delle case), and there should be at least three such 
protected points, so that then the wider extension of your men may be con- 
veniently carried out. If, therefore, you have the move and throw at the 
first cast {di pritno lancio) a three and an ace, you will advance into the 
third field two men — one to the sixth point, the other to be placed on the 
corresponding three point. This the ignorant do not do, but hasten to push 
a single man into the fourth field; this rule is to be observed when you 
cannot, by your throw, double any of your men. And if, by so extending 
your men no further than to the third field, you are hit by your adversary, 



STRAY NOTES 221 



this matters little at the outset of the game, because the men hit, as they 
come back, will serve you in doubling or establishing points, and enable 
you, in return, to hit the blots of your opponent, or to make the top-point 
{testa)^ called by the Tuscans capocchia (the *' head" or "top"), being the 
sixth of the first field, which is a position of much importance in the game, 
as we state below." We discover another Tuscan term in *' regola VII," 
which says: "If you have the move; and throw, at the first cast, three and 
two, you should establish the first point in the third field, which is your 
second, having then the advantage of a man in the rear, rather than seek 
to establish a point on your fifth, for you would in that case send forward 
one man less; this first point, as established, is entitled by the Tuscans 
procaccina ( " courier," '* runner," " carrier"), because it serves as a precursor 
or aid, to the introduction of men into the fourth field, and likewise helps 
in the establishment (doubling-up) of points." Again we are told in "re- 
gola XX" that "Two men doubled up on the sixth point of the first field 
are called by some testa^ by others capocchia^ as wo have remarked above, 
and form a useful position in the beginning of the game." In the applica- 
tion of these " rules " it must be remembered that, at each throw of the two 
dice in sbaraglino, you are to suppose a third die which always turns up a 
six; this imagined third die is referred to more than once, as stando che il 
sei si conqtuta in ogni tiro (" seeing that six is to be added to every cast "). 
We encounter, here and there, various striking words and phrases, technical 
and otherwise: pariglia (" doublet"); di posta, di hella posta ; far un hcUestro 
("cio^ metteme un'altra scoperta su '1 sei tuo del terzo campo, e Taltra 
dentro contigua, quasi nel quarto campo, e prime segno. Questo si chiama 
far balestro^ perchfe si mette dirimpeto vna tauola k Taltra"); far monte di 
tauole (placing several men on one point); cost anco guardati non mettere 
moltitudine di tatiole in falso "perche cosi potrai vincer il giuoco marcio, per 
la difficoltli ch* hauer^ Tauucrsario nel scaricare quel monte"); giocare per 
radietro^ giuoco marcio; vincere marcio (the latter perhaps something like 
the English " to backgammon "); non solo e necessario il saper enirare^ ma 
il saper letiar; tauola scoperta; and many others of frequent occurrence. 
After these twenty six rules for the advance (p^ Vinnansi), as the author 
styles them, meaning the style of play when the person addressed is in 
advance, pushing his men on towards the final " field " or table, we have 
" regola IX" per Vadietro (pp. 29-33), that is, adapted to the player whose 
men are mostly behind or in the rear, and who must watch very closely 
the movement of his adversary in the hope of snatching victory from the 
jaws of defeat. The second of these rules opens thus: "Chi giuoca per 
Padietro questo giuoco, e non serra il terzo campo compitamente, perder^ il 
giuoco marcio, per cid bisogna tener cura d*hauer in modo collocate le tauole, 
che si possi sorrare il detto campo, e fr^tanto trattenere tauole delKauuer- 
sario che sono fuori. Sari anco bene far prima (se sari possibile) la serrata 
nel secondo campo, perchfe, 6 ritardandosi il giuoco, ouero non hauendo 
tanto campo da mouersi con le tauole fuori, Tauuersario sari maggiormente 
constretto a rompere le case dentro nel quarto campo." To these rules 
succeed eight others being the " trattato quarto," comprising "rogole otto 
del leuare," thatiis to say for throwing ofT one's men (pp. 35-39). Interesting 
is the second of these rules because it alludes to a Latin saying customary 
among players: "Nel progresso del leuare 6 molto necessario, che letaaole 



222 CHESS IN ICELA ND 



noD sijno inquartate nelle tre vltime case del quarto campo, che manco h ne« 
cessario nelle tre superior!, e massinie nella prima, perch^ tu poi far tauola 
scoperta, se non tirando doi sei ['^two sixes''], ouero hauendo da mandar 
giu di 11 vna tauola, e tirando un solo sei, anzi si suol dire da' giuocatori, 
Quarta super quartam, e tanto piu super quintam, & super sextant. Ma 
qucsta regola delta quarta, fallisce spesso su la quarta, meno su la quinta, 
e rarissime volte su la sesta/' The end proper of this backgammon treatise 
Js formed by a " complimento deiravttore" (pp. 40-41), in which we are told 
that he who wishes to win and not lose his adversary's friendship must not 
play with friends; and that he who wishes to play without using prodane 
language, or showing brutal behaviour, should be free from avarice and from 
a too eager desire to conquer, which excellent sentiments are enforced by 
passages from the Latin poets. The writer concludes by saying: " E queste 
pocho regole habbiamo poste insicme, e distinte con quella breuit^, e facility, 
che ogn'vno pu6 vedere, pcrch6 il line nostro 6 state di giuocare, e non d'ac- 
quistarsi nome di dotto, che se questo fine fusse state in noi, haueressimo 
atfettata la oscurit^ del dire, secondo la sentenza diLucretio, 

Omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur, amantqne, 
Innaeria, qate sab verbis latinantia oemnnt." 

Below comes "II fine," showing that the work, in earlier editions, ended 
here. But now we have an additional section : *^ Avisi per diffendersi da 
gl' inganni, che vsano gli cattiui giocatori," filling the last six unnumbered 
pages. These counsels relate first to methods of deception employed in games 
of cards; then to modes of cheating in casting dice ("divorsi inganni, che 
fanno con li dadi''), and finally to tricks at the game of morat so common 
in Italy (*'gr inganni de' giocatori da mora"). The second section of this 
supplementary chapter— relating to dice — is the only one that can be con- 
sidered as having any relation to backgammon, and that hardly a direct one. 

The sketch given of this almost forgotten tractate is necessarily very 
imperfect. If the game it treats of ever find a proper historian it will become 
a source of much information, although it is a matter of some disappointment 
not to observe more traces of a connection between it and the early Italian 
manuscripts. Of the names mentioned in those, as applied to various forms 
of the game, we find only sbaraglio (the old sbai-ail), sbaraglino {sharailin) 
and minoreito. Some technical terms have apparently been lost, but Barti- 
nelli makes no reference to any preceding treatises. Perhaps the descriptions 
of positions wjiich he gives in his "regole" may, in some instances, cor- 
respond to the partita of the manuscripts, but to ascertain this would require 
much careful comparison. The quaint orthography, the simple, honest 
manner, the carefully classified matter, the general good sense, set off by 
some fancifulness, give that charm to the work which so much of the 
Italian writing of the author's age possesses. 

Before coming to the present standing and character of this game in 
Italy we will take note of some of its appearances in the literature of the 
peninsula during the last two or three centuries. In the course of the XVIth 
century we find the word sbaraglio (describing the three-dice form) in less 
common use by general writers than its derivative sbaraglino (the title of the 
variety in which only two dice are employed), showing that a decline of the 
former method of play had set in, and that the imagined third die, so familiar 



STRA Y NOTES 223 



in tho period covered by the manuscripts, was rapidly going out of fashion. 
Alessandro Citolini, called *^di Seravalle/' in his little known work, ^*La ti- 
pocosmia"' (Venetia 1561, p. 484), towards the end of the fifth of his seven 
days {sette giomi del mondo), after enumerating various sports, has a follow- 
ing paragraph on dice games. The reader must bear in mind that the author 
endeavours to cite in his volume the titles of all trades, professions, arts, 
sciences, philosophies, with the terms appertaining to each of them. He 
says : ** Segvono poi i Givochi di dadi : doue saranno lo pise, i dadi, da fa- • 
rina, da tauolc, e in essi il 6, il 5, il 4, il 3, il 2, V asso [the dice numbers], 
e poi il tauolierc, e i segni svoi, c le tauole ; e cosl givcar a tauole, tirar i 
dadi, far ambassi, dvini, terni, qvaderni, qvini, dodici [the dice doublets], 
menar le tauole, far case, lasciar tauole scoperte, dar a le tauole, tornar in- 
diotro, givcar di dietro, uincere, dar il givoco marzo [marcioj, perdere, git- 
tar uia le tauole, romper il tauoliere ; e se uolete le maniere de givochi, 
uedrete scarcaV asitio^ toccadiio, e corto, e Ivngo, sharaglio^ sharaglino^ ca- 
marzo, minoretto, a tre dadi, a sanzo." In the list here given wo have both 
sbaraglio and sbaraglino. As most of the other games mentioned in tho 
sentence are forms of backgammon it would be interesting to know what 
the writer means by camarzo ; scarcaV asino^ as we have already noted, is 
an appellation applied to one of the simpler forms of merelles ; and as for 
sanzo^ it may or may not be an older form of senza^ referring to varieties 
played "without'' the three dice. Sbaraglino we find both in the XVth and 
XVIth centuries. One of the earliest citations is in a poem by Bronzino 
(probably identical with the painter, Angelo Allori, called Bronzino, born at 
Florence 1501). It is in the thirteenth chapter of his '*Capitoli faceti'' (Ve- 
nezia 1822) : 

Come sare' far rasd e schioppetini 

O giaoar da se stesso a tbaraglino 

Per Don aver a dar noja a vicini. 

A more famous comic lyrist, Francesco Berni (b. 1536) — who gave his name 

to a sort of playful, ludicrous, satirical, flexible, but somewhat licentious 

verse at one time much read — alludes to tho game in the first book ("In 

lodedella primiera'' — the last word being apparently the same as **primero,*' 

the name of an old English card game), of his "Opore burlesche (Florence 

1552-55) : 

S' io perdoaai a primiera il sanfi^ae e gli occbi 
Non me ne euro, done a abaraglino 
Kiuiego'l ciel, a' io pcnlo tre baioochi. 

The word is also used by the Catholic historian of the council of Trent, 
Cardinal Pietro Sforza Pallavicino (b. Rome 1607), in his treatise " Del Bene " 
(Rome 1644, p. 261) ; " Non prouiamo noi, che chi giuoca a sbaraglitio^ quando 
il giuoco e a segno, che non possa egli perdere, se non iscoprondosi due 
assi nc' dadi, ci6 6 vna, non d' innumcrabili ; ma di trentasei congiunzioni 
possibili, canta gi^ nel cuor suo il trionfo del giuoco?" It is employed, too, 
by another native of the Italian capital, the litterateur Lorenzo Magalotti 
(b. 1637), in his " Lettcre familiari'' (Venezia 1719, I., p. 598)— compared by 
Hallam to those of Redi — where he gives us a technical term in use at his 
time: **0 non er' egli meglio tirar a vincer il giuoco per V innanzi (per sor- 
virmi d'un termine dello sbaraglino) che rimanere apposta in dietro pervin- 
cerlo per la cavata, e star a tocca, e non tocca di perderlo marcioT* The 



/ 



224 CHESS Iff ICELAND 






word sbaraglino lasted until the end of the XVIIIth century ; the poet Bar- 
toiommeo Corsini, writing about 1790, gives this counsel in his heroic-comic 
poem, "II Torrachione desolate'' (Leida= Firenze 1822, I., p. 104, canto IV., 64): 

Qnaud' eoco il Coute (ck'a temprar 1* aaiare 

Passioni d' amoro a on tavolino 

Se ne.atava iu palagio allor ool fare 

Coirajo Betfco Ciolli a ibaraglino) 

Fuori 86 n'esce.. .. 

Another poet, once eminent but now hardly read, of a somewhat earlier 
date, either the father, Jacopo Cicognini, or the son, Andrea Giacinto Cico- 
gnini — our authority leaves us in doubt which, but both were writers of 
verse — wrote : 

Lo' nipui-Hilor co 1' ha poggiate scMie 
£ oou a fatto o daiua o ibaraglino. 

We have commented elsewhere (see p. 187) on the Italian employment of 
trictrac^ wliich, compared with other appellations of the game, may be 
considered rare. As to the many and variously different significations of 
tlie word triclrac^ we are hero not concerned; the poets continued to bo, 
familiar with many of them and to use them, as, for instance, Giovanni Ba- 
tista Fagiuoli (b. 1G60), in his ''Rime piacevoli ** (Florence and Lucca 1729-45, 
7 vols): 

II Iricchc tracche allora ei scntiva; 
Ma nun 6 piu quel tetupo. 

No less a personage than Niccolo Machiavelli, the famous secretary of the 
Florentine commonwealth, confessed to his overweening fondness for back- 
gammon in one of his "Letterefamiliari'' (**Opero complete," Florence 1833, 
p. 827, col. 2), addressed to the ambassador, Francesco Vettori, dated 1513; 
he says: "Con questi io m' ingaglioffo per tutto di giocando a cricca, a^ric- 
irac^'" the former word, which we have seen before (p. 187), being the title 
of a game at cards. We have already mentioned an Italian instance of the 
use of trictrac to indicate a variety of backgammon, as early as 1526 (see 
the phrase just alluded to on p. 187). Toccadiglio^ as a backgammon ap- 
pellation, is a word, both as to its origin and exact signification, of the most 
evasive character. It is said by the German lexicographers to be Italian, 
and by the Italian to be Spanish. In Italy it is very seldom found in literature, 
and not very often in the dictionaries. It is, however, at least as old as the 
early years of the XVIth century. Giovanni Mauro, whose few poetical 
"CapitoW are usually published with those of Berni, and who died in 1536, 
a few days after his friend and compatriot (for both were Tuscans), in his 
"Capitolo a Ottaviano Soils'' (see Berni, edition of Florence, 1552, f. 154 b), 
inquires of the acquaintance whom he addresses what common friends arc 

doing : 

Che A measor Giouan, chu fik 1' abate, 
Cho ik Vergilio caualier adornof 
Buggier come dispensa le giornate ? 
Come f& il nmggiordoaio n toecadiglio ! 
II conte segQo anchor le trnccio neaU- ? 

while in the same century Francesco Bracciolini (b. 1566), in his **Scherno 
degli Dei,'' styled by the author in its first issue, 1618, a **poema eroico- 



STRA Y NOTES 225 



giocoso/' has both toccadiglio and sbaraglino in his lines (edition of Milan, 
1804, p. 76, cant. 5., xxviii): 

.... yeugono e vanuo 
Invisibili tatti, e qui vidno 
Giooaoo a toccadiglio o tharaglino, 

Baretti, the Anglo-Italian lexicographer of the XVIIIth century, renders 
both sharaglio and sbaraglino by calling each " a kind of play at backgam- 
mon,'' explaining the former as a game ** che si fa con tre dadi,'' and the 
latter as one ** che si fa con due dadi. '' In the various editions of his die 
tionary neither toccadiglio nor trictrac is treated as an Italian word. The 
former we have not seen in any Italian lexicological work except Giovanni 
Gherardini's " Supplemento a'vocabularj italiani," which was not issued 
until the middle of the century just closed (Milan 1852-57, 6 vols); it explains 
toccadiglio as a ^^giuoco spagnuolesco da tavoliere; forse lo stesso che ^6ar- 
raglino [sicj ,'' and goes on to remark that it is the French " toute-tahle o 
toutes -tables ; '' but this same dictionary nowhere cites either sbaraglio or 
sbaraglino^ and the Spanish dictionaries do not give us toccadiglio in any 
orthography. The term toccadiglio (or toccadeglio) is not at present, we be- 
lieve, in use anywhere on Italian ground. One verbal definition given by 
Tommaseo and Bellini may be noted. The French probably acquired from 
the Italian casa their technical word case^ the former being yet in use in 
the more Southern land, both for a " point " on the board and for a " point'' 
having on it " doubled " men ; as may be seen in the dictionary of the wri- 
ters just cited, casa is said to signil^ "ciascuno scompartimento del giuoco 
chiamato sbaraglino o trictrac^'' while ^^ fare una casa"" is given as mean- 
ing to '* raddoppiare le girelle o tavole, " the compilers adding that ^'adesso 
il giuoco dello sbaraglio si chiama tavola reale," Many derivations of 56a- 
raglino, all equally improbable, are to be found in the older dictionaries; 
Gherardini, by his orthography of the word [sbarragli^io), apparently wishes 
to imply that it comes from sbarrare (itself from barrare, to " bar), " mean- 
ing to ** disbar, " " surmount barriers, " to '*pass bars, " referring possibly 
to the movements of the pieces from one ** bar " or point to another, by 
which we shall be reminded of the English technical term, " bar-point. " 
Even more completely out of use than any of the names of varieties of back- 
gammon we have mentioned is minoretto, so common in the period of the 
early manuscripts, and even at a much later time so Veil known to Bar- 
tinelli. 

But backgammon was, at a subsequent day, to find its way to a much 
more important place in Italian letters. It was to be the subject of a pro- 
minent episode in the best known work of the greatest Italian poet of the 
eighteenth century, for his only possible rival to such a claim, Metastasis 
is to be considered rather a dramatist than a lyrist. Giuseppe Parini died 
almost with the century (1799). Ho was the first Italian poetical writer who 
came under that English influence which had so effectively reached Germany 
through Lessing. In 1763 Italy, then lying in a drowsy slumber, was startled 
from its languor by the apnearance of the first part of Giuseppe Parini's poem 
**Il giorno, " the scheme of which, we are told by an English critic, was 
drawn from Thomson, while its spirit was the spirit of Pope, the result be- 
ing a production such as Cowper might have composed had he been born 
an Italian. It is a masterpiece of delicate and pointed irony. It describes 

29 



226 CHESS IN ICEL A ND 



the dawdling, dilelUntc life of higher Italian society in that dull age, when 
there was neither political, commercial, military nor literary activity, when 
no national feeling existed and when even the church slept. It portrays the 
events of a day in the fruitless life of a young man of the gentry, and is 
divided into four parts: "II mattino " (morning), "II mcriggio" (noon), 
"II vespro '' (evening), and "La notte*' (night). The second part ("II me- 
riggio '' or " II mezzogiorno '') was published in 1765. At its end was a de- 
scription of a contest at backgammon, which at once became the classical 
utterance concerning the game. The guests at a country-house, the noon- 
meal llnished, retired to the drawing-room for coffee, after which some of 
the party went out driving, and, as Carducci in his summary of the poem 
expresses it: "Gli altri giuocano a diversi giuochi, essi a sharaglino.^^ 
Then follows a detailed description of the sbardglbw game, the original of 
which wc quote in full. The reader will notice the introduction, still com- 
mon in Parini's day, of the old mythological machinery, and will see from 
the last lines that the author shared the belief in the derivation of the word 
iriclrac from the noise made by the shaken dice. The text given is the care- 
fully revised one of the historian and critic Cesare Cantu, in his admirable 
work, "1/ abate Parini o la Lonibardia ncl secolo passato (Milan 1854, 
pp. 105 408). The passage embraces lines 1103-1190 of the poem: 

Cob\ a qaoate, o Signore illustro, ioganuo 
Oro lento si faccia. £ a' altri aucora 
Vuolo Amor che s' inganui, aitrove pngni 
\a tarba cunvitata : o tn da un lato 
Sol coil la Dama tnu qael giuco ele^gi 
Cbo duo soltanto a on tavoliore ammotte. 

Gi& per nlnfa gcntil tJicito ardoa 
13' iiifioifribile ardor miacro aroanto, 
Cui iiair altra eloqaenza uisar cou loi, 
f nor die qooUa degli ocehi, ora coiiccaHO ; 
Puicb6 il rozzo marito, ad Argo egaalo, 
Vigilava mai sompre ; e qanai biscia 
Ora piegando, or allangando il ooUo, 
Ad ogBi vcrbo con gli orccchi acuU 
Era prescnto. Oime ! come con ccuui, 
O COD notato t-ivolo giammai, 
O con servi scdotti a la ana bella 
Cbioiler pace od aitu ? Ogui d' auiore 
Stratagomma finiadimo vincea 
La geloaia del rnatico marito. 
(;ho piU lico aperarel Al torapio ei vioue 
Del nume accorto cbo lo norpi introccia 
AU'uurea verga, e il capo e la calca^^na 
I)' ali t'oruisc(>. A lul ni prostra uniilc 
E in qneati detti, lagriinando, il pregu : 
" () pTopizio a gli amanti. o buon rtgliu"lo 
" Do la Candida Majft. o tu cbo d'Argo 
" Delndesti i cent' occbl, o :i lui rapiati 
'* \a gnardata j:iovonca, i prcghi at-cogli 
•' D' nn aniante infelice, e :i Ini c<moodi, 
'' 8e non gli occbi, ingannar gli oroccbi alutono 
" D' importuno nmrito. " Kc<.o, ai scoto 
Tl divin aimulacro, a lui si cbina, 
Con la verga pacifica la fronte 
<lli pen-ote tro volte; o il lieto aniaoto 
Sento dottarai ue la ntente un gioi'o 



STRAY NOTES 227 



('he i maritl aMordlaoe. A lai dirosti 
Che Tali del sno pid concesse ancora 
n sapplioato Dio; cotanto ei vola 
VelociMimamenie a la ana donna. 
La bipartita tayola prepara, 
Ov' ebano ed avorio intaraiatl 
Itegnan aul piano ; e partono altornando 
In dae volto 6ei caae ambe le sponde. 
Qaindici ncro d' ebano rotello, 
E d' avorio biaDchissdnio altrettante 
Stan diviso in dne parti, o moto e norma 
Da dao dadi gettati atti>ndon, pronte 
GU spazj ad occnpar, e qainci e qaindi 
I'ngnar contra rio. Oh cara a la Fortnna 
Qaella ohe corre innanzi all' altre, o scco 
Trae la compagnfti onde il nemlco aasalto 
Forte soa'tenga ! Oh giocator felico 
Chi pria V estrema cnaa occapa ; e I' altro 
De gli spazj a ad dati ordin ricnipie 
Con doppio segno ! £i trionfknte allora 
Da la falange il sao rival combatt^ ; 
E in proprio ben rivolge i oolpi oatili. 

Al tavolicr s' aaaidono ambidno, 
L' arr.ante cnpidlMimo o'la ninfa : 
QnoUa nna sponda ingorabra e qneati 1' altra. 
II marito col gomito a' appoggiu 
Air nu do* lati : ambo gli orecchi tcnde ; 
E sotto al tavolier di qaando in qaando 
Gaata con gli oocbi. Or I'agitar de i da<1i 
Entro a aonanti boaaoli comincia ; 
Ora il picchiar de* boeaoli en I piano • 
Ora il vibrar, 1o sparpagliar, 1' nrtaro, 
II coBsar do i dao dadi ; or de le niosae 
Fed! no il martcllar. Toroesl e frcroe 
Sbalordito il geloao : a faggir pensa, 
Ma nittienlo il sospetto. H fraj^or creac^, 
II rombaszo, il frastono, il rovinio. 
Ei pih rpgger non puote; in piedi balsa, 
E con ambe le man tnra gli otvccM. 
Tn vincesti, o 2klcroario : il canto amanto 
Poco disae, e la bella inteso ossai. 

Tal ne la ferrea eUk, qaando gli sponi 
Folle snperstizion ohiaraava all* nrroo, 
Giocato tn. Ma poi che I'aareo sarse 
Secol di novo, e ohe del prisco orrore 
Si spogliaro i mariti, al sol diletto 
La dama e il cavalier volsero il gioco, 
Clio la ueoessitik trovato avea. 
Fn snperiluo il roroor: di roolle panno 
La tavola veetiAsi, e de' patent! 
Bossoli '1 sen : lo schiamazzio molesto 
Tal rintaszosai; e dura al gioco il nomo 
Che anoor 1' antico strepito dinota. 

Cantu's principal note (pp. 106-107) is of interest, because it is the 
earliest and fullest attempt at a historical sketch of backgammon, written 
in Italian, down to the middle of the XlXth century — and it has not been 
greatly improved on since — although it naturally leaves much to be desired. 
The chess anecdote of Saccheri at its end is, of course, out of place, but in 
Parini's time people still fancied that all table games must be more or less 
related to each other : ** £ lo sparaglino [sic], uno dei diversi giuochi delle 



228 CHESS IN ICELAND 



tavole. II tavoliere b doppio, compartito in piramidi bianche e nere, e vi si 
giuoca con quindici pedino nere, e quindici bianche, due dadi, due bossoli. 
Ciascun giocatore impila le sue pedine al vertice della prima piramide: in 
uno dei bossoli scuote i due dadi, e li lancia contro la sponda delPavversa- 
rio: secondo che i dadi fanno pariglio o no, si regola la mossa della pedina. 

I numeri eguali fanno andare da freccia bianca in bianca; o da nera in 
nera: i ca£Ei da freccia nera in bianca o viceversa. L'intento 6 di occupar 
restremit^, ove si fa damare [I] la propria pedina, per poter poi assalire 
Tavversario nolle sue case. Dal fracasso che doveano fare pedine, bossoli, 
dadi fu questo giuoco chiamato il Trictrac; dal quale poco differisce il Tac, 
N^ voglio n^ devo ins^gnarvi a giocare; e molti ponno aver veduto a gio- 
carlo ; giacch^, sebben raro, non ^ disusato, singolarmcnte in Francia, ove 
un proverbio dice che il trictrac non imparano le donne che dai loro amanti, 
n^ gli uomini che dalle amiche. Chi ne volesse conoscere le teoriche, guard! 
V EncyclopSdie methodique^ jeuxr^ trictrac. Prospero Merimde, uno dei roman- 
zieri piu rinomati di Francia, pubblic6 un racconto La partita di trictrac, 
Delille, neW Homme des champs^ ha una lunga descrizione d'una partita a 
trictrac. Platone diceva che il mondo fe simile alio sharaglino: si comincia 
dal gettar casuale del dado; poi 11 giudizio dispone le mosse. Tutto questo 
brano sembra al De Coureil una puerility, una pcdanteria, un'afTettata eru- 
dizione di scolastiche cognizioni, e trova singolarmcnte ridicolo che un mo- 
derno Zerbino ricorra a Mercurio per ajuto. Ma chi gli ha detto che questo 
trovato fosse moderno? Platone attribuisce 1' invenzione de'giuochi di zara 
appunto a Mercurio Trismegisto. I Greci avevano il diagrammismo e i Ro- 
mani le duodena scripta^ che somigliava ben bene al nostro trictrac. Gli An- 
noli persiani \o fanno antico quanto gli scacchi. Perocch^ raccontano che, 
durata lunga guerra fra Belagi, re d' India, e Nuscirvan re di Persia, quegli 
per finirla alia quieta mand6 al Persiano un giuoco di scacchi, promettendo 
pagar un tributo se i Persiani, nessuno insegnandolo, scoprissero Tarte di 
questo giuoco. Raccolgonsi i sapienti del regno: Bonzurgemhir [Burzurgmihr] 
arriva a discoprire i misteri degli scacchi ; c per mostrar che i Persiani non 
solo ne sapevano del pari ma piu che grindiani, invent6 il trictrac: inviato 
dal suo re, porta air Indiano si la spiegazione degli scacchi, si la siida a 
conoscere il nuovo giuoco. La sapienza di tutti i dotti deir India riuscl vana, 
e Belagi pag6 il tributo {Annates de la literature et des arts^ tom. IX, pag. 84). 

II padre Girolamo Saccheri, gesuita, professore di matematica a Pavia, fra 
altri ammirati esercis^ di memoria, faceva questo di giocare a tre scacchieri 
contemporaneamente e senza vederli; e il piu delle volte vinceva: poi, se 
piacesse, ritesseva a memoria tutte le mosse. '* What Cantu calls " il Tac " 
is, doubtless, toccadiglio ; tac^ however, is not discoverable, so far as we 
know, in any Italian dictionary, at any rate not as a name of a game. In 
more than one place, in his note, Cantu makes evident his ignorance of 
table-games ; the word damare (to " queen *'), for instance, is not appro- 
priate in connection with backgammon, but is used only in relation to chess 
and draughts. 

There is a more recent edition of '*I1 giorno o le odi'* of Parini (Tu- 
rin, 1899) by Luigi Valmaggi, a Turinese university professor. We copy his 
longer note (pp. 136-139) on the same passage of Parini's poem, in spite of 
the fact that its matter is largely drawn partly from Cantu and partly from 
the cyclopedias. Some portions of it, nevertheless, will be new to many 



STRAY XOTES 



his is especially true of the concludini; lines, I: is i .::;. \^xi -.it 
3t the note could not have given ns a trastw.?rtLy a^c»:utt^ i-f •^-» 
Ate of backgammon and its varieties in ihe .iiff*r«ir j-rcvlc-ses : f 
ether with some notices of the terminology of :Le ja=^ ^z-^ >r 
irogue in the extensive field which stretches bet-^een S-j-iiweKcrr: 
1 Friuli: ^^Descrizione del tric-trac: e il no=ie. ^L^ "aacvr l"ai«-: 
Inota,* a punto venne dal ramore che (ao«vano. n^I zii->y>. t»:i»o .. 
line. Ma, boon docamento del la ciarlataneria etixol-i^lea -1' zza 
i che oramai dovrebb' essere vecchia, con xac ^:> ^: s' 
imo Torigine recapitando la derivaiione i-^i nox^e al 
le vorrebbe dire "trois fois difficile i joaer •« i !Oii-r?c-ir> 
»rito da Qiovanni Qoinola nella sua X-yvv^iLf Ar^j^trmiip -^ 
^ p. 284). II tric-trac si giaocm in Fran-^ia e fa ^«>> as<^* z^zr 
tavoliere, diviso longitudinal mente in doe cac-i. * ^:'^:a^nl^: :a 
TO frecce a doe oolori, dodici per parte. ^^aral» alia it-t jt-y.'s^i 
tale dello scacchiere (partono altematuio in i>U^ mOtfcmi jaa^^ ^ 

1149 sg.). De* doe giaocatori ciascnno di<p-^c< di 'iz^zz^ur^ rrr^^. 
roieUey com*^ corretto nelle varianti •!: z&aoo 1<&1 P-. r^s^-ecLi-k- 
nche e nere, ammassate da principio in tre pCe »:^ La ^r:=A fr^ixua 

Dal getto del dadi, che devono emere Lanciaii «<cir> 'jz t^.-^iz 
lla nomenclatara francese tnttavia in corset aTT*mrla. i^p^Sf^^ci: 
[ualiti della mona, di ana o due pedine o su Vzzm, o i.'ali?a t^^.- 
do la combinazione del ponti formati dai da«ii. ^^las';*: la t..*«szj:a>» 
acondo il nomero totale k pari ysimpLau di freceia ^:A2«!a :3. iwa3f*a. 
{doubiUU)y di bianca in nera e riceversa. Oriiae « 22faia3i«».-;.: i. 
^piani* {jons) otto In tatto. conforse al drrerK- zir^ir, v.€;itt Jt 
moYono e sono abbaHves: e segnano i pone t:-^:. *iyt r c«:ua»: 
lici, con due gettoni variamente dispocU invjmo ziA lr<siKK Iw 
ati la prima fireecia di destra: qoattro t?a la tarza e la ^-larca. «a . 
dti dinno an trou^ che si rappresenta infilaorVj ^?«s^'*ni, iaii»M.-:ie 
L nei bachi onde son fomite le spoode Ui tav^li^r*: ^>l^*i stj^a/ 
[>artita. — II giaooo h aatichiasioM), ^ !o trc^JUM » 
lel Libro dei re di Pirdosi (toL VI!. p;^. 2£*-S3r: ^::a n,i- 

Pizzi, Torino, 1888), il qaale ne attribaiice 1' .nT»^r.:>s» a., varry. 
tr. Lo vediam poi diffosissimo neH'a&u^aita e^la«&:a: pr-.^.a.u.- 
I ctTttia del Oreci (cfir. Esidluo. II« p. S^,. Moza iiic^.: .. i4i»t&^ 
tcviptarum del Romani, die si giocara sopra in ikrwjin .^iDfmj 
lal qaale erano traoeiate dodici Ixnee ijontj^ts. •!: \\. .. a«>aje ^la^ 
ina perpendicolare in modo di fonnare 24 eoacpar::^:*!*.^!. ^ \wnz^ 
Dverano lo pedine {eaieuiij a doe colori. M^j^tj .. >-i.a.v, '-.irtuKi-. 
anciati sol taToIiere mediante an bo«»:>lo p^Ttu :, ^ruJumjt . uui 
egole del tric-trac. Oltre doe epij?7a£brL« '2«C.M«'V>l>;v: .r.^si^i 
iese) e qaalchaaltro eenno di werixxori iauci v. 7*7. AUt^^ T%r *-r, . 
n. 8. V. scrijUai^ p. 170, 28: Or. rrirt^ II-. 47*: .4jri. »•.. "^ iSi*. 
., 2, 28; PHo., Y. ff^ ULXYU^ 5, 2', e iaLp<tftaBt.A*»2V, v^ina^iv, 

U oelebre epigrmmma di Agathias -'Amt, <rr^ lll^*i, «a.v.^.. ttiie 
) ana partita deirimpermtore Zenone (Xarqisarii. Prtmst, i. i^>K., 
8gg.); i materiali per6 son pooo sa poeo giq 'i%^^A «>«».. n^xi-:;. 
gi4 da! Salmaaio (in Seripl. hist, Aw^., « da. I>e Paw. Z«? «^i 
pi^. AgaOu^ TraJ, ad Rheo^ IIBS.. Iiai aais&asw> >. ACT . ou 



230 CHESS IN ICELAND 



Jacobs (p. 101) e ancora dal Becq de Fouqui^res (L£s J eux des andens, 2"^ od, 
(Parigi, 1873), p. 372) fu riprodotta di su la silloge di Grutero (Inscript ant,^ 
II., 1049) una tavola rappresentante il giuoco ; ma e apocrifa, come prov6 
chiaramente gik il Ficoroni (7 tali ed altri strnmenti lusori degli antichi ro- 
mani descriH (Roma, 1734) p. 102 sg.). Ancora ritroviamo il tric-trac nel 
medio evo, ov' era designato col nome di alea^ divenuto sinonimo di tabula^ 
la qual parola non signified piii lo scacchiere, bensl la pedina, e Id scacchiere 
si chiam6 invece tabolerium (L. Zdekauer, II giuoco in Italia nei secoli XIII 
e XIV^ in Arch, stor. ital., s. 4% XVIII. (1886), p. 20 sogg.). Non 6 rara negli 
statuti la disposizione che si debba giuocare con trenta tavole, e ci6 afiine 
d' impedire ' che le pcdine si mettessero in apparenza air orlo del tavoliere, 
per gettare i dadi, in mezzo di loro a zara' (Zdekauer, 1. cit., p. 27, n. 1.). 
Quanto alia confusione de' termini, essa perdur6 sino alia fine del medio evo 
(ancora 6 nel Petrarca: v. il XXVI ragionamento De ludo aleae et calculorum 
del De reinediis utriusque fortunae), e piu in qua, sino al Rinascimento ; il 
merito d' averla tolta di mezzo spetta per prime a Celio Calcagnini, nella dis- 
sertazione De talorum, tesserarum et calculorum ludis (in 0pp. (Basilea, 1544), 
pp. 286-301). Ma non mai forse il giuoco ebbe eosl grande diffusione e voga 
come nella seconda met^ del sccolo seorso. Nella Nouvelle Acad&mie desjeux^ 
ristampata ad Amsterdam nel 1773, 6 detto in proposito che * rexcellenee, la 
beautd et la sincerity qui se rencontrcnt dans ce jeu, font que le beau monde 
qui a de la politesse s'y applique avoc beaucoup de soin, en fait son jeu favori, 
et le pr^f&re aux autres jeux. En effet, ce beau jeu a tant (^ noblesse et de 
distinction, que nous voyons qu'il est plus k la mode que jamais; les dames 
principalement y ont une tr6s grande attache' (II. , 31 sg). Non 6 a meravigliare 
perci6 se nella teoria del giuoco troviamo chehanno luogo Jclle regole galanti 
di questa fatta: *L*on pratique... a present que cclui qui joue contro les 
dames, leur donne les tables ou dames noires, parce que le noir de Tebeno 
relive et fait paroitre davantage la blaneheur de leurs mains, ce que leur fait 
plaisir (ib. p. 33).' Dairanonimo autore della stessa opera 6 anche referita 
certa Chanson du trictrac, nella quale la scurrility d si grande e il doppio 
sense si grossolano, che non si potrk riprodurne altro che i primi vorsi : 

Galans, jo veox tous apprendre, 
Sans Livro et sans Alniunacb, 
Un jea facile a oomprendro, 
Un Doavean jea de Trictrac : 
II fant, on snivant la chance, 
Mettre lea Danies .... 

11 Cfantu] rieorda un proverbio francese, secondo il quale il tric-trac non 
impararono le donne se non dagli amanti, nb gli uomini se non dalle amiche. 
Neir //omme de Ville [Champs] del Delille (1738-1813) h unalunga deserizione 

d'una partita a tric-trac; '^i e un romanzo sullo stesso argomento scrisse 

« 

^* Thit metrical description of a partie of backgammon If like that of Parlni, and poa- 
aibly 8uggeat«d by it, and is the most notable which oconrs in French literature. It is to 
be found in ** L'Uomroe des ch&raps *' by the abb6 Jacques Delille (see his works, Paris 1824, 
VII., pt>. SSO-tSl) and is very brief. Valmag^, as ibe reader will notice, makes the singular 
blunder of styling this once widely-road poem '< L'llomnio de ville " — an inexplicable lapse 
of the pen. We cite the passage in its completeness: 

Le del derient-ll sombre? Eh bieni dans ce salon, 
Pr6s d*uu cbSne brulant JMnsulte k I'aquilou; 
Dans eette ebaude enceinte, arec gout eclair^e, 



STRAY NOTES 231 



Prosper Merim^ (1803-1870); entrambi anche citate dal C[antu]/' Much of 
this will be found, in a somewhat fuller shape, in other pages of the present 
work. The citations in regard to the line-gamos of the ancients show that the 
commentator did not know the little publication of Professor CJomparetti, of 

MlUe henreuz pame-tomps abregcnt la soiree. 

J'entendi oe Jeu brayaut ou, Id cornet en main, 

L*adroit joueur ealcule un haMard iuccrtain. 

Cbacuu sar le damier fixe d'an oeil avidu 

Los caics, lea couleura, et le plein et lo ride: 

Les diaques noirs et blauei voient du blanc au noir; 

Lear pile croit, docroit. Tar la crainie et I'tisjioir 

Battu, cbaas6, reprls do sa priion sonoro 

Le d6, Don saua fraoa«, part, rentre, part encore; 

II court, roule, a'abat; le uombre a prononc6. 

In the poem from wliicb wo are quoting, tbene llnea are immediately ancceeded by a deacrip- 
tiou, of equal leuglh, of a game ofobeaa. Tbe abb6 Delille publi«bed " L' Homme dea cbampa" 
in 1800. Utf, like Parini, was greatly influenced by his familiarity with fingliah letters. 
Uceiding for tbo bettor part of two yeara in Koj^laud, be translated into French Miltou'a 
"Paradise Lost." Pope's '*Bsaay ou Man*' aud several Nbortor pluees. He aomewhat re- 
aumbled the Italian lyrist in eaprU, aud iu tbe case au<l harmony of bis verse, but he haa 
lung coasod to eujoy tbe popularity aud vogue which wore once his. It is proper to mention 
tliat Parini'a pocui has beou rendered in its complete form into French under the title of 
" Le joar, poSmu eu quatro parties, IMtduit en vers fraucaia par I. L. A. Reyraoud '* (Pa- 
ris 1826). — Thu acurriious piece of verse, of which the firnt linea are reproduced by Valmaggl, 
has been set to music, and is iuserttd in many collections of French songs. — The other French 
production which haa to do with our game, liliuwi'ie mentioned by tbe Italian commentators, 
is tbo story by Prosper Merim^e, ^* L^ partie do trictrac" (1830), contained In his often re- 
printed and widely tranalated collection of tales eutitled '*Colomba." Tbe oditlon we have 
used la tbat of Paris 1889, In which the narrative fills pp. 312-3SO. It Is the tale of a young 
French lleutouant of the navy, who, after losing a good deal of money in gaming, yields, 
in hia deapair, to the temptation of cheatlug, at trictrae, hia opponent, a lieutenant in the 
Dutch service. Of the two it ia aald: ** Dref, pondant pluaieura jours lis ae donndrent ran* 
deavous, aoit au caf6, soit a bord, essayant toutcs sortes de jeux, aurtont le trictrae, et aug- 
mentant toujoura leura parts, ai bien quMls en viurent a jouer vingt-cinq napoleons la par* 
tie.*' Tbe Frenchman is finally reduced to hia laat twenty-five napoldona. The eoneiau 
deacription of tbo calmlnatiug point of the contest is as follows: -^*' Bientot Koger fut rednit 
k joucr lea derniora vingt-einq napoleons. II s'appllquait horrlblement ; anssi la partie fut- 
tslle lougue et dispul^o. II vInt uu moment ou Roger, tenant lo cornet, u'avait plas qu'une 
chance pour gagner : je crols qu'il lui fallait six-quatre. La nult etalt avancde. Un offieler 
qui lea avait longtetnpa rcgard^s Jouer avalt fini par s'endormir aur an fautoull. Le Hoi- 
laudala 6tait fatigue et assonpl ; cu outre, il avalt bu beaucoup de puneh. Roger seul 
etait bien 6veill6, et en prole au plus violent draeapolr. Ce fut eu fremiasant quMI jeta 
les d^a, li lea Jeta ai rudemeut aur le damier, que de la seeooase une bougie iomba sur le 
plauchcr. Le Hollandais tourna la teto d'abord vers la bougie, qui venalt de couvrir de 
cire sou pantalon neuf, puis il rcgarda lea d£s. — Ila niarqualent alx et quatro. Roger, p&le 
oommu la mort, re^ot lea vingt-oinq napoleons. Ila continuerent a jouer. La chance dovint 
favorable a mou malhcurenx ami, ^ui pour taut faiaalt 6coIea sur dcolea, et qui caaait commo 
a'il avait vonlnt perdre. Lo lieutenant hollandais s'enteta, doubla, dcooupla ks enjenx: il 
perdit tonjours. Je crois lu voir encore, c'6talt an grand blond, fiegmatique, dont la figure 
semblait Stre de eire. II se leva tnfiu, ayant perdu quaranio mllle fraucs, qu'il paya sans 
que sa physionomie dteel&t la moindre Amotion. Roger lui dit: '* Ce que nous avons fait oo 
soir no signifie ricn, voua dormiez k moiti^; je ne veux pas de votre argent." — '* Voua plal- 
aantoz/' repondit le flcgmatlque Uollandala; ** J'ai tres-bien jou^ mats les d^s ont M& centre 
moi. Je suls sur de pouvoir toojours vous gagner en vous rcndant qu«tre trous. Bonsoirl** 
et II le quitta. Le lendemaln nous apprimes que, d^scspdr^ de sa pertc, 11 s'italt Urh\h la 
cervelle dans aa chambre apr^ avoir bu un bol de puneh." Struck with horror at the aai* 
oide of hia opponent, Roger la maddened by remorse, tells bis two must intimate friends that 
he had wou by cheating, and prepares to put an ond to his own life likewise. They per. 
suado him to live, but soon afterwarda, In a naval combat, his purposed foolhardiuess results 
in his death. ' 



232 CHESS IN ICELAND 



which we have given an account (see pp. 122 and 174-5). Unsatisfttctory as it 
is, Professor Valraaggi^s note is still useful for its references to authorities, 
ami makes an addition or two to our bibliographical note on Greek and 

Latin games (pp. 121-2). 

There is an English prose rendering, or rather paraphrase of "Ilgiorno,'' 
published anonymously, but really the work of Lady Elisabeth Berkeley, 
who became by her first marriage Lady Craven, and by her second Margra- 
vine of Anspach (1750-1828), a figure of European note in her day. She was 
a woman of considerable learning, and printed privately some poems of 
Petrarch besides other compositions of her own, and was the patron and 
friend of Ugo Foscolo, whose English ** Essays on Petrarch " she issued in 
a handsome but very limited edition (sixteen copies) before it was given to 
the general public. Her version of Parini*s poem is entitled *^A £Bishionable 
day'* (London 1780), and was dedicated to the translator's brother. It gives 
but a faint idea of the beauty of its original. We cite the portion describing 
the game (pp. 105-113): '*It only now remains to perform the sacred rites 
of the god of gaming, who is always ready to cheat his votaries of their 
money and their time. The god himself provides the combatants with arms, 
and arranges them in different parties of foot and of horse. Propitious ever 
to thy prayers, for thee he orders to be set apart a table, whose narrow 
lists will admit but two warriors. Love smfles with triumph as he explains 
to thee the most ingenious stratagem which was ever practised by any of 
his subjects in all his wars with Hymen. Long had an unsuccessful soldier 
of Love been the prey of a consuming fire lighted in his bosom by the hand 
of a child of Beauty and of Hymen. The languishing looks of Tenderness 
were the sole interpreters of his passion. With difliculty could they deceive 
the vigilance of a husband, who never closed his eyes, and who, at the 
smallest noise, erected the long ears of attention. Alas I not a slave could 
the unhappy lover gain over to his interest, not the smallest billet could 
his despair convey to her. Wherever he goes, this monster blasts his sight. 
At last he flies to the^altar of that benevolent god, whose hand is armed 
with a caduceus, whose head and feet are ornamented with wings. To his 
holy statue he does the lowest homage. With streaming eyes and upheld 
hands, *0h thou son of Maia,* he exclaims, *thou deignest to listen to the 
prayers of Love— thou who deceivedst Argus with his hundred eyes— teach 
me to deceive, if not the eyes of this too watchful husband, at least his 
ears!' The statue smiles on his request. He perceives the magic caduceus 
three times touch his forehead. In an instant his inspired Fancy distinctly 
represents to him the mystery of this new game so calculated to stun and 
weary out the most attentive husbands. The happy lover darts away, as 
if Mercury had lent him his wings. Already he is at the side of his 
mistress. —Mindful of the commands of the Deity, he procures a board of 
scented wood, whereof he raises the sides, and which he divides by a wall 
into two c(|ual plains. The colour of these plains is black. Like the bat- 
talions of the red rose and the white rose, fifteen dames assembled on either 
side, these of a splendid whiteness, those black as ebony, wait, in order to 
begin their march, until two dice shall issue from a box of thunder. Happy 
she, who has not, by advancing alone, exposed herself to the danger of 
being cut off and taken prisoner! A companion is here of service, in order 
to assist in supporting the enemy's shock. The busy dice soon increase the 



STRA Y XOTES 233 



number of the combatants. Already I behold the milk-whito amazons form- 
ing, two by two, the close- wedged phalanx, and boldly charging the adverse 
army. The adverse army advances with a more confused march; while they 
who expose themselves to imprudent dangers, experience different checks 
which Victory is careful to record. Sometimes an ill-aimed stroke recoils upon 
her who too inconsiderately pursued her adversary.— Fortune favours the white 
warriors, of whom the enemy of Hymen is generalissimo. It should seem that 
their adversaries, commanded by the queen of Hymen, desired to be defeated. 
The astonished husband attentively observes this new-invented just [joust] . 
It strikes him that it is not without its danger, between two warriors who 
approach to too close quarters. Sometimes, his elbow rested on the field of 
battle, he listens with the ear of attention ^sometimes, he rolls the eyes of 
jealousy over the plains of combat— each time the martial throats of the 
tubes thunder with double fury. Fear obliges him to retreat, suspicion 
again brings him back to his stand of observation. The combat rages, thu 
din of the battle brays. Victory hangs upon the next stroke. The conquer- 
ing tube redoubles its thunder and thinks it can never make sufficient noise. 
Its adversary, mad at the scorns of fortune, vomits out the dice with a 
noise which disturbs the pleasures of Jupiter, and makes old Pluto tremble. 
The jealous husband, at length subdued, is driven from the plain, stopping 
his ears, and cursing such a noisy game. —Mercury, tlie day is thine. The 
disciple whispers half a word to liis mistress, who comprehends his mean- 
ing. Such was this game in the days of barbarity, when false ideas of 
honour continually disturbed suspicious husbands. But, since the Golden 
Age is again returned upon earth, since husbands are become officious and 
convenient friends, the lover and his mistress have only applied to this game 
for an agreeable amusement. In order to prevent that noise, which is now 
no longer useful, the peaceable tubes are form'd of silent leather, and the 
dice dispose themselves without tumult upon the down-soft green. The 
game has preserved nothing noisy but its name, which still continues 
TriC'trac.'" 



Of the printed works which have succeeded to that of Bartinelli, the 
first one familiar to us — though there are doubtless some intervening ones — 
is the anonymous: "Trattato teorico-pratico dei giuochi'' (Macerata 1832), a 
small volume of 164 pages, with a single copperplate, representing the 
backgammon-board and men. The game is here called gictcchetto^ which is 
doubtless the French Jacquet Italianized. But the method of play, as 
described, corresponds to the French revertier rather than to Jacquei. The 
section devoted to this form of trictrac occupies pp. 139-164, closing the 
work. It opens with a brief introduction (pp. 139-143) giving the compiler's 
summary of the gamers history, which, despite the repetitions involved, we 
here transcribe, inserting the few foot-notes in the text in their proper 
places: ''II giachetio 6 una sorta di giuoco di commercio piu prossima a 
quelli di azzardo, che si effettua sopra un tavoliere, per cui 6 della specie 
dei giuochi di tavola, e ha luogo fra due persone le quali si situano rap- 
porto al detto tavoliere Tuna incontro all'altra in A ed in B [referring to 
the copperplate at the end of the book]. Questo giuoco considerato come 
trictrac (sbaraglino, col qual nome si esprime il suo antico e piu bel mode 

80 



234 CHESS IN ICELAND 



di giuocarlo) ha secondo alcuni la sua etimoiogia nolle parole greclie tptg 
xpaxo^} t7'e volte difficile^ e secondo altri per onomatopea nella imitaziODo 
dello strepito che produce quando si giuoca, e di questa opinione furono 
Egidio Menagio (*Dictionnaire etymologique de la langue fran^aise,* art. 
trictrac)^ de Furetiere CDictionnaire fran^ois'), de Pasquier, Parini (Ml 
giorno '), Antonini (* Dictionnaire fran<jois, latin et italien,* art. onoma- 
iop4e)y ed altri. Le ricerche che si sono fatte intorno alPantichit^ di questo 
giuoco non sono molto precise; ma almeno se ne pu6 concludere che la data 
della sua origine si perde nel buio de' tempi. Ci6 viene anche confermato 
dalla considerazione che i giuochi di azzardo in genere sono antichissimi, 
mentre la loro invenzione h da Platone attribuita ad una divinita egizia per 
nome Theuth (Platone nel *Fedro' torn. III., p. 274). [Alcuni suirautoriti di 
lui Pattribuiscono al famoso Ermete ossia Mercurio Trismegisto, fllosofo 
cgizio, il quale fioriva verso Tanno 1900 avanti Tera cristiana; noi peraltro 
non abbiamo potuto verificare un tal passo, il quale sarebbe in contradizione 
con quello da noi riportato C Encyclopedic/ p. 102)], e dall'altra considera- 
zione che la maggior parte di tali giuochi si effettuava con i dadi, [L' origine 
de'dadi 6 antichissima, ma essi da principio erano segnati in quattro superfl- 
cie soltanto, essendo le altre due ritondate in cono, ^Dizionario de'costumi/ 
art. dado^ e Facciolati, * Calepinus,' art. tessera. Omero medesimo, * Odis- 
sea' lib. I., ne famenzione; e Sofocle nel *Palamede;' Pausania, *Descriptio 
Graeciae, ' lib. II., cap. XX., e lib. X., cap. XXXI.; Suida, ^Lexicon Oriecum,' 
art. KaXa|iir]8Y]g, e Isacio Porflrogeneta, richiamo le sue stesse parole: o Ila- 
Xafiir]8ir]5 cppovijiog, evnaiSeoto^, icoXu^ooXo^, |JieY*^°4'^X®^ » ^^^ Kpu»Tov to taoX:- 
Cetv -TjTot xoPeveiv e^eop-rjtai (cio6 Palamede provvido, ben erudito, di gran con- 
sigliOf magnanimo, cost per il primo trovo il tavoliei'c o sia il giuocare a dadi) 
ne attribuiscono T Invenzione a Palamede. Erodoto, *Hi8toriarum,' lib. I., 
cap. 94, la riferisce ai Lidii che egli fa autori di tutti i giuochi di azzardo; 
e con esso concordano Virgilio Polidoro, *De rer. invent.,* lib. II., cap. XIII.; 
il *Breviario storico,' pag. 34; ed Alessandro Sardo, 'De rer. invent.* lib. II., 
p. 734, ma quest' ultimo altrove, lib. I., p. 714, Tattribuisce a Palamede, se- 
condo r opinione dei primi che abbiamo nominato. Finalmente Platone ne 
fa inventore il sopradetto Theuth (loc. cit.)], dei quali si servono i Greci e 
i Romani per indovinare, ovvcro per semplice divertimento. [Gli uomini 
stessi giuocavano qualche volta perflno cogli Dei : ed ^ curioso ci6 che Plu- 
tarco riferisce nella vita di Romolo, che il custode del tempio di Ercole prese 
i dadi e giuoco con lo Dio, a condizione che se egli vinceva ne avrebbe otte- 
nuto qualche segnalato favore, e se egli perdeva avrebbe donate al flglio 
d'Alcmena una bella ragazza]. Ora il trictrac nella sua prima maniera di 
giuocarsi apparteneva ai giuochi di azzardo, e siccome di quelli effettuati 
CO* dadi 6 quasi V unico che noi conosciamo, pud congetturarsi che esso 
abbia avuto origine in quel remotissimi tempi. Anzi secondo il Barbeyrac 
(*Trait<^ du jeu,' lib. III., chap. VIII. & VI.). Platone stesso sembra che parli 
di esso quando ci d^ la descrizione di un giuoco degli antichi che ne ha tutte 
le apparenze (*De Repub.,' lib. II., pag. 374, c, torn. II., ed. Steph.). Per 
altro questo giuoco apparir^ sempre molto antico quando anche si vogliano 
soltanto considerare le conoscenze piu sicure che si abbiano intorno ad esso. 
I/ab. Barthelemy, nel suo viaggio di Anacarsi, dice che era noto in Atene; ed 
Agathia lo descrive nel suo epigramma sopra il re Zenone che trovasi nelPAn- 
tologia. Vi hanno tuttavia di coloro che dubitano se Agathia abbia voluto 



STRAY NOTES 235 



parlare del trictrac e credono che gli antichi lo abbiano ignorato: ma qucsta 
opinione viene contradetta dal testimonio dei romani i quali certamente lo 
(k>noscevano ; e sapendosi che essi tenevano quasi tutti i lore iisi dai greci, 6 
pressoch^ indubitato che questo giuoco era cognitissimo in Grecia, dove fu 
recato probabilmente dai Fenicii. Questi ultimi portanto, come pensa Tau- 
tore del *Dictionnaire des jeux,' art. trictrac^ ne furono forse grinventori, 
a meno che lo avessero ricevuto ancora da piu lungi, sia dall'Egitto o dal- 
r India. Non dobbiamo poraltro omettere T opinione dell'Arabo, al-Saftidi, 
il quale ne fa inventore un re di Persia (* Encyclopedic amusem.' art. aritnie- 
tique e 'Dizionario della ricreazione,* tom. II., p. 94), e noteremo ancora in 
conferma di questa opinione che i Persi mandarono il giuoco del trictrac 
agli Indian! avendone ricevuto in contracambio quelle degli scacchi: il che 
pu6 vedersi in Hyde ('Mandragoras,' p. 42), in Menocchio ('Le stuore,' 
tom. III., cap. 84), ed in Verci, *Lettere sui scacchi,' p. 26. [I Francesi e gli 
Alemanni si disputarono un tempo la gloria dellMnvenzione di questo giuoco, 
'Academic des jeux,' ediz. II., art. trictrac^ ma ci6 al piu si pu6 intendere di 
qualche sua ultima modiflcazione fra le tante che ha sublto. Infatti i Fran- 
cesi hanno il trictrac, revertiei', toutes-tables^ toumecase^ dames rdbcutues, 
plein^ toe, gammon, Jacquet^ garangttet ('Dictionnaire des jeux'), glMtaliani 
lo sharaglino, il giacchetto a due ed a tre dadi, ed in particolare i Roma- 
gnoli il ynitwretto; gli Spagnuoli il toccadiglio, ecc. ecc, Bartinelli nel suo 
Sbaraglirw], Ma Tantico giuoco del trictrac venne in seguito variato in piu 
maniere, e quella sua modiflcazione che oggi 6 piu in uso ed ha preso il 
nome di giacchetto, deve annoverarsi fra i giuochi di commercio, come di 
gi^ abbiamo awertito. [II sig. Barbeyrac, loc. cit., pag. 121, dice che il 
trictrac 6 giuoco di commercio; sebbene noi lo vediamo sempre espressa- 
mente proibito fra i giuochi di azzardo, come pu6 vedersi neU'ordinanza 
del 1319 di Carlo IV., detto il Bello, ed in altre successive]. Non tralasceremo 
qui di ricordarne la poetica origine descritta con molta eleganza dal Parini 
(loc. cit.), il quale attribuisce la sua invenzione ad un accorto amante, che 
cerc6 con lo strepito di questo giuoco di deludero la gelosia di un marito." 
The subsequent text of the section on giacchetto is in three chapters 
(pp. 144-161) ending with a very short glossary or **Dizionario che spiega i 
termini usati nel giacchetto,'' (pp. 162-164). The table, we are told, is 
divided into four parts, ''che diremo tavole contenenti ciascuna sei case o 
frezzey The sixth paragraph informs us that *'I numeri dissimili, come due 
e asso, quattro e tre, ecc., sono chiamati semplici, Quelli che sono eguali 
come due 3, due 4, ecc, sono chiamati doppietti. Nel leggere i numeri sem- 
plici bisogna sempre nominare il piu gran numero per il prime; cosl sei e 
quattro, e non quattro e sei, dovri pubblicarsi il tiro nel quale un dado pre- 
senta 4, e r altro 6." The list of terms given to the doublets differs slightly 
from that we have already presented to the reader: "Ogni doppietto ha la 
sua denominazione particolare: i due assi si chiamano ambi gli assi o as- 
sissimi; i due 2 duetta; i due 3 terni; i due 4 quaterna; 1 due 5 cinquina; 
e 1 duo 6 seoni o sei tutti,'" The writer cites from Bartinelli the Brescian 
phrase, aver la mano, "che signiflca essere il prime a giuocare." Restates 
that double five is the best cast for the flrst one; "ed il peggiore, escluso 
due e asso, k quello degli assissimi [double aces] per cui si dice : assissimi 
in primis sunt signum perditionis,"' an adage which we have not found 
elsewhere. Two others are given afterwards: '•'pedina toccata deve esser 



236 CHESS IN ICELAND 



giuocaia"' and ^^pedina lasciata e pedina giuocaia,"" A series of doubled 
points and therefore impassible is called legatura^ the verb legare being 
used in the same sense. As to the rules, we glean the following principal 
points. Your adversary's men are placed at the beginning of the game on 
the first point at your left, that is to say, on the first point of the first 
table, while your own are placed on the first point at your adversary's left. 
In moving the men, the starting point is not counted, but the finishing 
point is. In playing, the points or pips of the two dice are to be considered 
separately, never unitedly. Men can only be placed on points wholly un- 
occupied by adverse men. No men can be moved from the point on which 
all {nwiUe) are placed at the beginning until the first man moved has reached 
the fourth table. No more than two points can be occupied in that table 
in which one's monte stands; this, however, may be any two, or may be 
varied from time to time. Doublets are played doubly, that, is four times 
the number represented by each die. When the men have all arrived at 
the fourth table they may be either moved or thrown ofl" indifferently. The 
second chapter is devoted to explanations of the method of play under va- 
rious circumstances, a note at the end expounding the doctrine of proba- 
bility as applied to casts of the dice. The laws of the game, 28 in number, 
are the subject of the third chapter, in the course of which we find that a 
die is not counted when it leans against the side of the table or against a 
man, in which case it is said to be in aria; and that the player uses for the 
French *^J*adotibe'' either the word accmicio or accommodo. Finally, from 
the glossary wo learn that 605.V0/0 ('* dice-box") was formerly called, as the 
compiler thinks with greater precision, cannello; that a marcia is a game 
like a *' gammon" in English, in which a player throws off all his men 
before his opponent has thrown off a single one, and that it counts as two 
games; that nmrcia is styled a marcia per piinti, when it is not gained by 
means of a legatura (that is by barring the path of the adversary through 
a series of impassable points); that the mucchio is the point occupied at the 
outset by the men of either player (or perhaps the French point de repose) ; 
and that each of the four parts, into which the board is divided, now called 
a iavola^ was in remote times known as a campo^ while the word tavole 
was applied to the men, now known as pedine ("pawns"). 

The game of backgammon, now most commonly known as tavola reale^ 
is still greatly played in Italy, as is shown by the fact that the folding board, 
usually of wood, inlaid, rather than of leather, is to be procured even in the 
smaller towns. They are generally not oblong as in England and America, 
but nearly always square when folded, having on the outside a smaller 
chess-board and merelles board. To give a fair idea of the usual method 
of play we copy the section devoted to the diversion in a recent anonymous 
handbook of games, which shows comparatively few signs of having been 
compiled under foreign influence. It is styled "II libro dei giuochi" (Flo- 
rence 1894), and the description of tavola reale is to be found on pp. 360-963 : 
"Ecco un altro fra i giuochi nobili adottatissimo in quasi tutte le famiglie 
di una certa condizione, e per il quale molti signori spingoqo il gusto flno 
alia paissione. II sue materiale consiste in quella cassetta quadra sul piano 
esterno della quale si vede quasi sempre la scacchiera per gli scacchi o la 
dama. Si colloca aperta f^a i due giuocatori, i quali avranno cosi dnescatole 
unite, segnate in ciascun fondo di sei f^eccie da un lato e sei dair altro, per 



STRAY XOTBS 



«3ri 



lo pill iJtarnAtc. un& bisnca e un& ner*. Vi sono iiu>liri' i|uinilii<i ptMhio 
biucbe e quindici oere, an psio di dndi. c tin bussolii por ciMioiin (liuwii 
tore, con chQ agitarli e getUrli. Prima ili cominciaro il (jiuoon ki tliiipunKK(i» 
Ifl pediDe precisamcnle secondo la Dgurn Id. II jiiuocaturo iIHU> bianch« iiio- 

~ Oioocaton d^e p»dl&e ii»t«. 





Oinooatora d»U* p*dln* blanoha. 

««- "»- 

veri le sue pedioe da destra a Ninistra nul lalo oppoxio, da KinlHira a ilimlrit 
oel lato proprin. ciu^ percorrori in giro dalle nnc duo |hii1Iiii! Iilanclio iip 
poite verso le due nere chi; ha Bulla HUB doxlra nella propria parlo. II k'"" 
catorc deile [nero, al conlrario, percnrrerk II giro dalli' duo nam nlio lia In 
(laccia a sinistra verao le due blanche clie ha nclla propria partu a HinliitrN. 
La parte A verso cul concorrono tutte lo pcdiRn. lanto lilanilK! i>|in nnro, 
dicesi caaa. Scope del giiiocatnre ^ di rldiirrn In cmm tutte In pniprlo pndlix-, 
qnlndl di toKlierle, come vedremo. Clii prirrio lo tOKlUi vinnii la partita, si 
decide con i dadi chi deve Riuocare per II priino, avimdo i|uniitl iiri plncoln 
vanlaggio sull'altro. I dadi dcvono efner (feltali « nnll' una n n<dr*lira parte 
della scatola. Balutndo fuori ami dl eHM, «! dovrii ifViUrU dl naoviu II prlmii 
dunque getta i ftaoi dadi. e fa avanzare verno la direxlonn ({It Indlcaia iliio 
delle sue pedine, ciaHCiina per tanle trwuiu ((uanto nn Indlca oUa'^iin dad'i; 
OTvero fa avanzare una xola pndina per tanli piinll quanta I: la mmiink dnl 
punti fatii dai due dadi. Indi I' altro niwxMUire prendit I dadi n Hliiifi'a alia 
ana volta: co«i tiro per tiro Ik p«i|lne dl elanoiii'i avan/ano vvrui la rxn^. 
Quando vi nieno tutte raiv^olie. non prima, allora nl (Hiniin'dar«' a UiuUfrti 
di lATola corrinpond^nteDienle ai punil i-.hn nl raranno. tM iMdIna nlm nil mm 
conM va a pownii 'd'lve ne it una oola dfill' awnraarld, la l/fKlli dl igtmu'ii 
pmdcndo il ran ytmui. CUi ni f:biaHi« d/irr: all'altr'i. M* iwin imiuyrm miu- 
*iene di dare, ed e anil (al'jra biirfn umi^j, dl aiitMnenuvnK. 1,'alir* dntrd, 
tiraado i dadi. rt«ntrar« in ntwuii, -tii- rcxfoinelam d jftru dall* »:•••. K •^ 
i pflBti tratti '-•>rri«p'>n'l«**«r'^ a Ifst-^ii: vvrupatA da pi<i dl una pA'llna »i 
I yi', ri<n>trar«, < riimUrk n-K/tan.^nt* all' «lir" nut> tirtm. tmitit 
r m^ntf. 1« altrT ao* ptAttii tiimU^ n* al>Ma Uiuu dt i/mm."- hiUMfi i 



fMta»a« t -lad: Vim.-tM mtrntu, di 4mi i-iin fwMI 



J'wi 



CHESS IX ICELAND 



pieuo, ai considera 11 tiro come dopplo, e allora si muovono quatiro pedlne, 
a due per il doppio dci puDti fattl, o una per il quftdruplo. I doppietti banno 
noml apeciall, cXok : bambini, dneiii, lerni, quadretti, china, sena. Dopo il fin 
{|ui detto, si capisce bene che non k unlco scopo del gluocatore di correre 
impaz?4tainlfate alia meta, ma vi Baranno moltl calcoll da fare, e molta cau- 
lela da adoperare. Cosl, ognuno eercheri di reslare 11 meno possibitecon 
una pedina sola sul coreo dell' awersario {reslare a tavoUt). e procure!* di 
accomodare la mosaa del due pezzi in modo che vadano a riunirsi o addos- 
' sarni ad altri. ProRurerb altresl di coprire piii che possa, sempre con piu di 
iin pezzo s' intends, quante piii pud Creccie delta caaa dalla propria parte, 
1° per trovarsi pronto e bene sterzato coUe pedine per il momeoto in eui co- 
niincier^ a levarle : 2° perch^, dandosi il caso cbe all' awersario si aveBse 
tolta una pedina, git aar^ tanto piu difficile di rienlrare nella casa nostra 
quante piii frecce vi troverji impedite, flno da non tirare alTatta quando lo 
xieno tutte. In questo ca»o chi ha i dadi tira di segulto e niuove fino a ch« 
non rcsli libera una tVeccia nella sua casa. Cos), per esempio, supponiamo 
che it giuocBtore delle biancha tiri per 11 primo sei, asso. Egti con una pe- 
dina ilclla frcccla M \Rg. 20] fara il sei, non quella della freccia R l^rft 




N PQRSTUVXYZ 

Oloocator* d«ll* padina biknoli*. 

Fig. 10. 

r asBo ; e metterb cosl due pedine sulla freccia S. Supponiamo che il gluo- 
catore del nerl tirl quattro, due. Egli far& il quattro con una pedina della 
Treccia H, e II due con una della freccia ¥, ponendole eotrambe sulla froc- 
cla D, e cosl, come taluni dicono, avr& falto una casa. Facendo II gluoca- 
tore del bianchi, per eeempio aena egli pu6 muovere il gruppo della freccia A, 
e portarlo sulla freccia G., e poi, pprch^ con cotesto gruppo non potrebbe 
fare un altro sol, essendo la freccia N occupata dai neri, ei pu6 staccare 
Lin'altro gruppo di due delta freccia M alia S. Ecco chiaro il vantaggio dei 
doppietti : muoverne, due per volta. Ridotle lutte le pedine in caaa, le al tol- 
gono a seconda dei puntl. Cosl relativamente al bianco, faceadq china, ed 



STRAY NOTES 239 



avendo tutte le pedine in casa, ei ne potrobbe togliere quattro dalla freccia U. 
Facendo quattro e due, ne toglie una dalla V e una dalla Y. Se la Y fosse 
vuota, avanza di due punti una pedina del T, o del U. Se non vi sono pe- 
dine sulle freccio superior!, eio6 punti da faro, si tolgono addirittura di 
giuoco le pedine dalle freccie inferiori al punto fatto. Alcuni muovono piii 
tardi che sia possibile le prime due pedine della parte opposta della casa, 
per aver con esse la probability d' incontrare qualche pedina a tavol& e to- 
glierla di giuoco. Talora si e veduto V uno dei giuocatori aver la pedina 
fuori e V altro mezze le pedine tolte, gi^ presso a vincere ; ma costretto que- 
st! «a restarc, nel togliere le sue pedine, a tavola, e V altro fatto il punto di 
quella freccia, levargli alia sua volta quella pedina, e vincer la partita per 
aver la sua casa ben barricata/* The variety here described is the ordinary 
English backgammon (the French *'toutes-tables"). We must always re- 
member that it may be a modern importation into Italy. 

A still later compilation by J. Gelli, **Come posso divertirmi" (Milan liK)l), 
before cited (p. 102), devotes a few pages (207-17) to the game, which it calls 
sometimes tavola reale and sometimes tric-trac. These pages are evidently 
a compilation from the French. Two variations are described — irictroc and 
the giuoco del giaccftetto. Three or four others are simply mentioned— al- 
ways by their French names {garanguet, dames rabattues, iouie-table or 
gammon), Tlie technical terms are sometimes Italian and sometimes more 
or less distorted French forms. The Italian designations of the doublets arc 
stated to be : aces, ambassi, amho gli assi^ asso doppio : deuces, ambo ; treys, 
tema ; fours, quatenia; fives, china; sixes, 5ena— showing some slight 
differences when compared with the list previously cited, rric^rac is spoken 
of in one place as tavola reale alia francese. The terms >«n, contro-jan^ and 
atigolo di quiete o di riposo are employed; a **blot" is a pedina scoperta: 
a point, that is one of the twelve on each side of the table, is a freccia. The 
French ** abattre de bois " is rendered as far legna^ and is explained as **a 
cast of the die which enables the player to advance two men instead of one. " 
When the player is not able to play the points displayed by the dice the 
position is said to be chiuso. In giacchetto the man thrown forward at the 
commencement of the game to the fourth table is styled corriere. The 
compiler states that tlie number of men in trictrac is thirty, rarely thirty- 
two, while in giacchetto^ it is always thirty. How mucli the two French 
varieties which are here treated are actually played in Italy it is not easy 
to say. 

As to Germany, we have already learned (pp. 90-91) that the nard game, 
in the stage when it was known as totirfzabel, was established in that 
country as early as the XII Ith century. It would not be easy to demonstrate 
absolutely, by documentary or linguistic evidence, that any vernacular terms 
relating to dice, or simple dice-play, were in use before the table-game 
proper could have became known north of the Alps. In fact, so far as any 
extant German literary records go, we might surmise that dice and tables, 
that is some form of backgammon (Roman or other) must have crossed tl^e 
mountains at about the same time. But, on the other hand, it would, 
nevertheless, be too much to infer that the German people first knew the 
die only as an implement appertaining to the table-game, considering that 
dice, as a means of diversion, must have been known as far back as the 
days when soldiers of Rome garrisoned so many portions of Germany— long 



240 CHESS IN JC BLAND 



before the downCall of their great empire. It is most probable, indeed, that 
the Germanic peoples learned the use of dice from the Roman soldiery, in 
si)ite of the fact that Tacitus conveys the idea that the habit of dice-play 
was a peculiarly Oerman evil. Nevertheless (we are always in a period of 
doubt), it is not impossible that dice may have reached the more or lees 
nomadic tribes of northern and eastern Europe from Asia — to which quarter 
of the world a cloudy legend assigns their origin. The so-called ^' Grande 
cncyclopddie *' of France has thus summed up the commonly conceived no- 
tion of tlie ancient German and general mediaeval devotion to games at dice: 
'' Le jeu dc des, selon Tacite, etait une veritable passion chez les Germains: 
lorsqu'ils avaient tout perdu ils jouaient sur un dernier coup lear liberte. 
Plus tard au moyen Sge, ce fut un des jeux favoris des chevaliers. On trou- 
vait des academies de jeu de dds (scholar deciorum). II y avait memo une 
corporation sp^ciale dMndustriels qui fabriquaient les des i jouer, les ddciers. 
Malgrd les interdictions et les ordonnances (en particulier, celles de 1254 et 
dc 1256 par Icsquelles saint Louis ddfendait le jeu et la fabrication desdds) 
le jeu resta clicr pendant tout le moyen dge aux hommes et aux femmes; 
plus tard les lansquenets se signalerent spdcialement par leur passion pour 
les des." As to the testimony of Roman writers in regard to the prevalence 
of dice-play among the Gorman tribes we shall come to that farther on. 

We shall now first endeavour to learn what we can about the appella- 
tions connected with dice, in the early centuries of the modern period, since 
most of those appellations may be considered as a part of the terminology 
of backgammon. The. generic German word for "die," is voiirfel (plural 
as singular) ; according to the lexicographers it is a derivative of wurf^ a 
noun signifying a ** throw " or **cast." This latter is formed from the 
plural preterite stem of the verb werfen (singular, ich warf, plural, voir 
lourfcn)^ and is really genuine old High German (influenced, as stated below, 
by the Low German form). Unlike the languages we have been treating so 
far, and unlike the English, the German, therefore, possesses an indigenous 
term for this important implement of the backgammon game. The congener 
of wcrfen in English is the verb '^ warp^'' which had the same signification 
do ''throw" or '"cast") in its Anglo-Saxon and Middle English forms, a 
meaning now lost. The second or terminal element of wurfel is the derivative 
syllable -e/ (-/), which, even in very old times, served two purposes, first and 
foremost to form substantives and adjectives from verbal and other stems; 
secondly and subsidiarily to form diminutives. In this, way toUrfel would 
literally mean a ** throwing," ** throw," "little throw," or "little thing 
thrown." In old High German — during the Xlth and Xllth centuries— it took 
the shape, under Low German influence, of loor^, worfel. From xoUrfei 
comes, by means of the verbal suQix -en (-w), the verb wUrfeln^ to "cast" or 
" throw dice," to " play dice," to " dice." A dice-player is styled a toUrffer^ 
and dice-playing ("gambling"), or the "game of dice," is known as wUr- 
felsjfiel—a minstrel of the Xlllth century, as we shall see hereafter, exclaim- 
jng: der diuvel schuof das wUrfel spil^ " the devil created the game of dice." 
Remembering all this, we shall understand the old German name given to 
nard-backgaiumon, wiirfzabel (that is " throw-tables "), to which we may 
have occasion to refer again. We dwell somewhat fully on these etymolo- 
gies, because it is by means of these philological evidences that we may be 
able, if at all, to decide on the simultaneous or non-simultaneous introduc- 



S2RAY N02ES 241 



tion into Iceland of pure games of dice, and of table-games, in which dice 
are subordinately employed. As to dice-play, there is a singular bit of 
severe prose comment on the subject in Haui?sddrffer*8 ^* Compeadioses 
Lexikon Apophtegmaticum '' (Nurnberg 1718): "Der die wiirfol erfunden, 
hat sechs galgen verdient: den ersten fiir sich, den andern fiir seine spiel- 
gesellen, den dritten fiir den zuseher, den vierten fiir den, so den spielplatz 
h&lt, den funften fiir den, so das spielen erstlich lehret, und den sechsten fiir 
die herrschaft, welche das spielen nicht verbietet/' 

The numbers given to the dice-pips play a noticeable part in later 
Latip mathematical history. As we are taught by the most famous of the 
classical architectural writers, Vitruvius, the mathematicians of Rome 
styled 6 the "perfect** number (because of l-»-2-h3 = 6), and accordingly 
formed a peculiar terminology applicable to the elements contained in it. 
The six lowest members of the numeral series were given these names: unio^ 
binio, ternio, quaternio^ quinio^ senio (all feminine substantives, forming the 
genitive in -onis). However these forms may have originated, they seem 
at once, or within a short period, to have been applied to the dice-pips, the 
many-sided Isidore of Seville (who, born about 570, died in 636), apparently 
knowing them only in that connection; for he says, in his chief work 
(** Origines," 12, 65) : " Jactus, quisquc apud lusores veteres a numero voca- 
batur ut unto, binio, ternio, qiuitemio, quiniOy senio/' Notice his expression, 
lusores veteres (*' ancient players ''), as if he believed the terms to be classic, 
whereas they are really post-classic. These numbers, or many of them, 
passed over into modern forms, and were, in their new shapes, or in the 
original Latin, of frequent use, as tlie reader will have, perhaps, already 
observed, in the mediioval '* tables " manuscripts. 

The numbered pips, or dice-spots, known by names derived from the 
romance tongues are, in the older German, as, daus (tiis^ dauss^ taiis, tausz)^ 
"deuce;" quater {quatter, hatter)^ "quatre," "cater;" zink (zingg), ^'•cinq;'' 
sesjs (Si middle High German form), "sice." One of the newest German pub- 
lications on games (A. von Hahn*s " Buch des Spiele, " Leipzig 1900, 
3rd edition, p. 262), in describing the backgammon variety toccategli, says 
of the names of the dice : " Die eins heisst, as oder es ; die zwei, dous ; die 
drei zuweilen dres; die vier quatuor oder quater; die fiinf cinque oder zink; 
die sechs sis oder sess"' — hut dous is not often so written, and dres is 
unknown to most lexicologists. Older works on the same table-game (as, 
for instance, the anonymous " Neueste Anleitung wie die trictrac- und toc- 
categli e-spiel recht und wohl zu spielen," Niirnberg 1773, (p. 5), and various 
editions in the same century of the German Hoyle, (" Das neue konigliche 
riiombre,") vary in their orthography, writing ass oder ess^ tres, sis, while 
they add the technical titles of the doublets: aces, atnbesas or beset; deuces, 
double deux; threes, ternes or tournes; fours, carties^ carmes; lives, quines; 
sixes, sonnes, sanne or sannes^&U of Romance prevthtance. Ass is, of course, 
of the same origin as the French "as" and our "ace;" an earlier orthography 
(middle High German and late old High German) was esse. The newer form 
is doubtless influenced by, if not directly derived from the French. There 
is no absolutely certainty as to the remote origin of this term, common to 
so many languages and used in all of them in so many popular sayings. 
Br; et makes the French as to come from the Latin as, which came to 
the unit of measure, and was thence applied to the playing card, or 

31 



242 CHESS IN ICELAND 



to that side of a dice-cube which is marked with a single point. The Latin 
dictionaries usually suggest, as the source of the Latin as^ a Tarentian dialect 
form, 5?, of the Greek si? ('*one"), but dcfdbt is thrown on this by the 
*' Century Dictionary'' (sub "ace"). Daus follows our "deuce'' in having 
a double etymology. As a dice term it is to be referred to duos (accusative 
of the Latin duo); when it is an adjuration (as in the English "Deuce take 
you!" or the German Was der daus!) it is doubtless, a corruption of the 
Latin deus ("deity"). This debased signification (=" devil") belongs to a 
common class of phenomena occurring in the process of etymological de- 
velopment. The vernacular drei is, in modern usage, much more usual 
than tres or dres. The varying forms of quater come, of course, through 
the French numeral form, from the Latin quadrio or quatuar. Cinque and 
ziTiq represent the French "cinq." Whether sis or sess is of direct modern 
Romance derivation (like our " sice ") is not yet, we believe, fully decided. 
Of the doublet names carnes (contracted from quatemo)^ quines and sonnes 
are from the series enumerated by Isidor, very likely through the French. 

These appellations of the dice-points— aw^en = " eyes" as they are styled 
in the vernacular— were used figuratively very early in German literature, 
both by the poets and in proverbs. Instances of the latter are very nume- 
rous, but are generally, if not always, suggested by the dice, or drawn ft*om 
pure dice playing, having no apparent reference to any table-game. One of 
the most wide-spread is the rhyming adage which has been popularly ascribed 
to Luther (and which is said to be really found in a still existing MS auto- 
graphic collection of proverbial sayings compiled by the noted reformer): 

Dans 68 uiohts hat ; 

Ses Kink niohts dat [" givea "] , 

Aber qnater drey 

Die sind stets dabey ["always on hand], 

or as Luther makes the final lines: quater drey halten was (uris) frey^ other 
versions having as the closing words, hilfen frei. It is sometimes found in 
a slightly varied form : Datis es hat nichts, \ sess zink gibt nichts, | quater 
drei muss herhalten. Here, of course, the smallest numbers are employed to 
represent the lowest and poorest classes, the intermediate numbers indicate 
the sober, more trustworthy, commercial middle ranks, and the t^o highest 
stand for the nobility and less energetic wealthy orders. The theme is fre- 
quently varied and has gone into many languages, whether from the German 
or Latin we hesitate to say, the oldest Latin form being: Unio pauperior 
Codro est, ut hiiias egenus : senio nil confert : quinio nil tribuit. As is seen, 
ternio and quaternio are omitted, so that the point of the saying is missed. 
Codrus was the name of two insignificant Latin poetasters, one of whom 
was made famous by the accounts of his extreme poverty. In an old volume, 
which contains some translations from Ovid, there is an English metrical 
rendering of the proverb just cited: 

Deaoe aoe cannot 
Pay soot and lot; 

Sioe sink will not pay ; 
Be it known to all — 
What payments fall 

Most light on coter tray, 



STRAY NOTES 243 



— " coter '' being quater. Similar is the couplet from the story of " Reynard 
the Fox" as given to us by F. S. Ellis and T. F. Crane (London 1897)— 

Tbat which is likened to denoe ace 
Hath in esteem thn lowest place. 

An old popular German bard, yclept Rosenpliit (Rosenbliit), who made the 
flowers of poesy bloom at Nuremberg between 1431 and 1460, says in his 
"Niimberger rais:" 

Tans es wart daz ir nioht verlast 
Und weichet nicht ron kotter drei ; 
Die werden ench das spiel gewinnen. 
Ses sink die wonen ench nicht pei. 

Here taus es refers to the common people, kotter drei to the middle classes, 
and .9^5 zinh to the nobility. But the boldest allegory based upon the dice- 
points is one cited from a middle High Gorman piece by the Rhenish poet 
Reimar von Zweter (died after 1252), which ascribes the origin of their num- 
bers to his Satanic majesty: 

Der tiovel schnof das wiirfelspiel 

Dar nmbe daz er sdlen vil 6& mite gewinnen will. 

Dm esse er hAt gemaht dar ht dos 6in got gewaltio ist. 

Der himel in slnen handen st4t 

Und din erde, dar M er das tfis gemachet bat : 

Die drlen tkf die drle namen die er bAt, der siieze yctre Krist : 

Das qnAter wohrte er mit grosen listen 

Uf die namen der Tier Arangelisten : 

Den zinken tkf dee roensohen sinne 

Wie er die fnnfte maohe kranc : 

Das sea, wie er sechs woohen lane 

Die wasten nns mit toppel ane gewinne. *- 

Sometimes the allegorical meaning attached to the points takes another 
shape, as in the lines from "Eraklius," also a poem of the Xlllth century, 
ascribed to one Meister Otto, whose birthplace, residence and family name 
are all unknown, and who, as it seems, elaborated it from an early French 
poetical piece, called **L'ompereur Eracles '' by Gautier d' Arras, a writer 
who lived and wrote nearly a hundred years before Meister Otto. This is 
his allusion to some of the dice-numbers: 

Umbo die frowen stAt ez sA 

Behte als nmbe ein toppelspil, 

Ob manz ze rechte merken wil, 

Er ist wAr nnd niht gelogen. 

Es relt eim rlohen herzogen 

Als lihte ein esse oder ein ttts 

Als dem boQsten [meanest] Ton dem hfis, 

which seems intended to indicate that the same destiny awaits both high 
and low. 

Still earlier in the same century lived the rhymer known only as the 
"Strieker''— by profession as has hence been supposed, a rope-maker — 
whose home seems to have been in South-eastern Germany and in Austria. 
He died about the year 1250. After having produced an epic on Charlemagne, 

**' A modern German Teralon of tbii pieea Is glTSn on a sabssqnsnt pafs. 



244 QffESS IN ICELAND 



he composed a variety of poetical works, in one of the best known of which, 
the "Pfaffe Amis/' ho cites proverbially the two lowest dice-points: 

Dar nmbe siil wir prisen 
Den pfaffen Amisen, 
Twie verre er fnor in daz lant 
Dftz man dooh eallen stten vant 
Yil grdsen rftt in sine hf^ 
DA viel daz eeae noch das tfts 
Nioht an der handelango. 

A yet more renowned rhymer of the same period, meister Freidank, whose 
individuality, after long research, is still a subject of debate, classes together, 
as alike treachorous sports, dice, racing and falconry (federspiel) : 

Deaa pfimd gar oft im spiel verflillt, 
Der seine ehr' anf wiirfel stellt. 
Wiirfel, rou and federspiel 
Haben tren die tangt nioht viel. 

Among others of a later date, Hans Sachs introduces the terminology of the 
game into one of his quasi-religious dramatic pieces, when he makes the 
soldiers of Pontius Pilate cast dice for the garment of Christ : 

Romanug. — Das losz werfen wir iiber dero 

Gestriokten rook, weloher in nehm. 

Er xcUrft mit sehn icUrfeln ein wurf und spricht : 

loh hab drei esz, ioh bin darvon, 

Br wird an mich mit Umgen ton. 
Der ander Knecht. — Ich hab drei daosz, gwin anoh nit viel 

Mit dir ich damaoh gloiohen wil. 
Der dritt Kneeht. — Na seobt so, ioh hab qaater drei : 

Ich hofif ich sei anoh noch darbei. 
Dw vieri Kneeht. — Qliiok waits, dor wiirfel trttgt sesz dans : 

Der rock int mein, das spiel ist annz. 

Another writer of theatrical pieces, cited by Vigil Raber in one of his 
collection of twenty-six "Sterzinger Spiele'' (15l(V1535)— the twenty-fifth 
play —makes one of his characters say to another: T>u richtst dein sack nur 
nach ses3^ zingg^ quotter : while in an old ballad to bo found in Uhland*8 
** Volkslieder'* there is a similar passage: 

Drei wiirfel zncket ioh herftir 
Und warf zink, qaater, drei. 

0. Schade, in his **Satiren und pasquille aus der refer mationszeif (Han- 
nover, 1853-8), cites various old poetical allusions to dice, as Der paur sprach 
'quateTj 3inke\ (20-17); and in the well known ** tragedia, der irdisch Pilger 
genandt" (Nurnberg 1562) of Johann Heros, one of the persons says: 

G^fallen ist mir qaatter ses, 
Daraaf mir qaatter dans anoh fellt. 

Much earlier is the "Ronner," a didactic poem by Hugo von Trimberg, who 
lived at Bamberg through the first decade of the XlVth century, in which 
we find what seems to be a rhymed proverb, 

Yon sinkea qaAter ande tCts 
HAt numger ein anberMen hto. 



szL^^ y* 





nitioB o; Uiis- r»a*»' 'asfzr^ .j2ta*- ±* ^— -a :-~ « {«*',i-a:: Tr-.ir' h* intitv^-n^f- 
{un. **r". r^fjt n* - ^" "■< *?■• r»»f c*, vAet^ ■i'Tt.V • ^mj...! %*»*-vi 

ess edt fp£ prrTUtiv^i^ c-^iZ n ai • . i'r-r"r_ •miiftc -Jr— «/•' ?.*T>vtt. -i-* 




All Ibflse fairfeo*- ••: i,-vnr;-** t: :i.f ni'r^ f^i^fv-ifc.:; t/ iii.-^^-j.iJkT. hm w. 
JMIMK liim. —ifwi?* ihi **j«eir:jfc^ i*r: :•" TLr ' t*n».>»LjL-'- /■•: ikJi-'.i-Kiiokieiirr- 

^Ihrcrw atrLt..*?:**"^ lt-:»-* Uiix •<»& eT:t^&xji:K>T o: The w,%rr.'< »-'ric:^ ^•3^'^ 
been »n«L ;-**•— r'l- tL£ er-xLiuCirj r*f C-niTTi. :< T'T-^H^b^r A,-»,-^r.-Ar^ r-. jii 
least. 2* u»* r*Ti*rrk-7 b'.-;ieji»i :i>f, H* r^Ake* :; s^l^.:^ V;V *',1,m;>.;«m^ " 

OT€f left." "p*«w» ver-" -eTowr-i* tm!"^ aTic s^mc* *tr:<M> to h4ix^<* ih*^ 
meani&£ of *•*: >bi.«i -t.-pri-a-" :b* :*±Ti:i:-r. ir. G-.tt.t.*. b^inc W^ .'CwW ••••' 

mwidtrrt da* r^r^/i/m ~ ^^ifcr **<^wi#f " •-r**^(fl"*», ;A«ir^/^^ f^t*M\*^t. Vnoihor 
lexieogrmpber. Daniel Saaiers (1?^^'. assert* that iho w,%rd j>i>v>. i* a wam^ 
somadme* <?iT*n t^i -i^djepiel rcerelles", whicli is, of course, one oi tho 
cast4>marT iexieographicai blon^iers^ and then he p>« on to |f ire a ^ee^^n^Ury 
(dioe> signification thas: Beitu spu^ m»i .ftvi \ri»rfr?n ein •rwtv", ^> ^^^ *'•*''< 
vfMrfein gUich riW ougen zeigen Hiop/jWiri#r/> — makin)?« if Mrielly interprt^ltnl* 
three dice e»tentiaU bat he jjoes on to say that .lungfi^^^ jkix^^a \% a t^i*m 
applied, wenn auch der drifts (irtr/W] rft>NY/N» mhi ttttg^n h^U^ hxM i!i«h v^hv 
eUle), he describes alle pcisch as ein trwr/V i»m ^»y#^tfMfW, hsvN*i ttw; <i/*\t» 
w^trfeln dieseihe zahl oben iie^. A minor lexiooloj?i»t, del««M |H»rl»a|m h> 
the phrase '-numeri pares," as applied to the upturned! \w\\}Mn wi^ «wo dhH»» 
suggests the word par as the origin of ;w*<'A. In \>t>nn<H»Hon \\\\\\ i^x^^s a 
word elfem is alluded to in some of the lexlt^>na» hut \n nought In vain In 
moat of their vocabularies. Pn.^f\ is still \isetl, in the vnrloun baoKirammon 
games practised in Germany, in the sense of »»douhloU;'' w\\\U\ in iho 
variety known as der lange puff, the higher Ural throw* lo dooldo Iha IwmIw 
niBg player, is known, as genertii-pmsch. The lenn In Uk#wlM #m|iliiye«l \n 



246 CHESS IN ICELAND 



pure dice-games, when on two dice the number of the pips is the same, 
which are then counted together ; if the pips on three dice, thrown together, 
are alike, they are counted four fold. Only occasionally does the word make 
tts appearance in general German literature. Hoffmanswaldau, a poet of 
the XVIth century, exclaims somewhere in one of his pieces: Bier ist der 
wUrfelpasch ! ('*Gedichte,'* Leipzig 1645, 4. 5). Pasch seems to be used some- 
times in the sense of to " throw dice/' or *' playing dice." Thus the learned 
and ingenious essayist, Heinrich Friedrich Sturz (1737-79), says: Manhatte 
mir vor karten gewarni und so wandte ich ein dass ich hein spiel als hochst- 
ens pasch verstUnde, Often, by general writers, the word is employed in a 
mistaken sense, as when a seventeenth century writer declares of one of 
his characters: er auch sogleich einen paschwUrfel nehst einer spielkarte 
hracJite, as if the signification were "a die,'' or a "set of dice." Abele von 
Liljenberg (about 1760), one of the famous " Fruchtbringende Oesellschaft," 
appears to propose, satirically doubtless, to decide lawsuits by throws of 
the dice, AUe rechts- Oder gerichts-verfahrungen mil drei paschwUrfel endigen 
Oder eroriem. As is so often the case with technical terms, the word got 
to be applied to other objects than those which it originally characterised, 
so that in the Bavarian dialect the children's game hlicker (or schusserspiet) 
was also named po^c/i^n — perhaps from the close or doubled positions of the 
marbles. Sometimes the form hasch — perhaps older — was used. Thus the 
Ootha poet, Friedrich Wilhelm Cotter (1746-97), writes in a poem called 
" Herr von Malaga und der tod " (1787) : 

^lein held, ob ihm vor angst gleich jede nerve bebte, . 
Die s&hne klappten and die znng* an gaomen klebte, 
Zwang (wie bejm baaohe eonst, wann ehr* and aoligkeit 
Aaf einea wiirfeU fl&che sohwebte), 
Sein maskelspiel za falsoher heiterkeit, 
Indeas er Spaniel in langen ziigen schliirfte. 

From the noun a verb paschen was formed, meaning originally to " throw 
doublets," but afterwards to "cast dice," "play at dice" as well. The author 
of the popular "Simplicimus" (Hans von Grimmelshausen) cries, Wollen 
wir jeUwider paschen (1069), and a somewhat later writer says: toenn der 
alter Jterr Itist ?iat zu paschen oder,.,, pihet su ^ielen.'" From paschen^ again, 
comes the compound auspaschen, cited by Sanders (1871) with this illustra- 
tion : zur vergUtung seiner auslagen durfte er eine ente herauspaschen [that is 
aiiswUrfeln, wUrflend ausspielen] lassen,'* thus meaning to " stake at dice, " 
"raffle away." Another such verb, ahpaschen^ defined as to "throw away at 
dice," is also found, with a citation from a minor writer: euch cibsupaschen, 
armer schdcher^ ist mir nur spass. Among other instances of greater or less 
ignorance among lexicographers may be mentioned a definition by R&dlein 
(1711): ein pasch tr«r/e/="un jeu de dez; " one by Schmid (1831): basch= 
"jactus decretorius" {entscheidender wurf)\ one by another less known 
compiler is less erroneous, paschwUrfel=toUrfel sum paschen. 

That the German should have, and should have introduced into other 
languages spoken in the region round about his fatherland, such a peculiar 
word &8 pasch to express doublets at dice, may strike the reader as strange. 
It may be partly owing to the fact that the counterpart of our word "double " 
(or "doublet"), coming to us from the Latin through the French, got another 
and established meaning in connection with dice at an early day. Doppeln 



STRAY NOTES 247 



literally to "double," signified to *'pUy at dice," to "dice." Grimm has 
some interesting remarks on the word. He says that the meaning to " play 
at dice," which was its earliest signification, became especially common in 
North Germany. Later it was applied to other dangerous or injurious games 
of chance, to which were attached the reputation of treacherous, swindling or 
contemptible methods of play, which bad signification was also applied to 
the noun doppeUr (gambler), in the Holstein dialect, dubblen even moans, in 
general, to "play at cards." The word is a derivative from the Latin duplus, 
and implies the doubling of the sUke at games. Some other lexicographern 
cited by Grimm agree with him in this explication, regarding it as "a staking 
double," an increasing or outbidding the stake of the adversary at dice or 
cards, either by agreeing to pay double, if a loser, or by adding an additional 
sum to that already at stake. Other writers refer its origin to that whicli is 
now called pasch, the cast of equal dice-points (tliat is, double points), the 
French and English "doublet." In old High German the term is not found, 
but it existed already in old Frisian (dobbela, dohiia). In middle Iligii Gorman 
it was toppeln; in Low German (niederdeutsch), dohheln^ dobeln: in Dutch 
dobhelen; in early Icelandic it wasdudto, dufUi, to gamble (in tiie Norwegian 
code known as the "Gulapingslaug" of the Xllth century), and the noun dnfl 
(gambling) occurs in the same code, while in a mathematical essay of tiio 
XlVth century, "Algorismus," it is used in the sense of" double; " the SwodiHli 
has dubbla or dobbla, and the Danish doble. In the earliest citations of Grimm 
something of the sense of duplicare, is still retained. The earliest is from 
Wolfram von Eschenbach's "Pareival" of the Xlllth century: 

Umbe dan witrf der 1011(611 
Wart gttovpeh. 

A similar sentiment is from the same period: 

Manec uiuiiese Kliiijidtt 

Wart getoppelt d4 der beidonachaft. 

The following, too, is nearly of the same date: 

Wir hAu ^rate ambe deo wurf 
Geiop«lt der gr6sB«D surKeo. 

A preacher, a century later, says: ir suit ouch dar umbe mit tatuen an ilem 
niotcetafje oder spiLn oder toppeln. In a glossary of 1482 toppeln is explained 
as 'Mudere cum taxillis," by which it will be seen that it then had only its 
technical signification, to " play dice." Another preacher exclaims : spileat 
und doppelst mil ihnen tote ein erzloiterbube ! In the XVIth century the pro- 
lific Johannes Fischart, who, among his other labours, produced a f^ee render- 
ing of the "Gargantua" of Rabelais, uses thO'Word in his version: Lasz 
uns eins toppeln, der minst ist knecht ; and again 1st niemands hie der dop- 
peln wilU A later and less famous moralist, Henneberger, dwells on tho 
evil of dicing: Denn es von allerlei losern gesinde ein zu hauf gesammeltes 
volk war, welche nichts anders thaien defin in den tabemen doppelten, spielten 
und soffen—spielen and doppelen being here, as often, joined in the same 
phrase, and must perhaps, sometimes be translated " playing and gambling." 
A glossary, much more recent than the one we have cited, that of Henisch, 



248 CHESS IN ICELAND 



" Teutsche Sprach und Weisheit, A-G (1616), renders doppeln by *• ladere 
alois, jacere talos, aleas, tesseras, duplo ludere/' all but the last definition 
referring literally to dice-play. Leasing makes one of his cliaracters a de- 
termined doppeler: Dieser mensch hat ganz und gar keinen geschmach am 
tanzen, und bereitet den spieler unvermerkt in ein seitenzimnter mit ihm zu 
geheriy um eine vierielslunde mil einander da zu doppeln. The 1863 edition 
of Sanders cites a pasi^age in which a good dean is seen to have such bound- 
less faith in providence that it even embraces the dice-box: Der decfumt 
spricht.... seine segen ilber die icUrfel^ wenn er doppelu Sanders here expresses 
a doubt as to the origin of the play-term doppeln^ whether it come from dice- 
play or from the table-game; he even suggests that it may be connected 
with the English word ''dub/* In his " Fremdworterbuch '' (1871) Sanders 
gives the word doublet^ explaining it as ''^pasch im wUrfelspieV A Swiss lin- 
guistic student, Stalder (1757-1833), asserts that the word, in a central Swiss 
dialect, is employed in target-shooting: doppeln heiszt auch den doppd 
erteyen bei schiessen. The term occurs in proverbs, as in one quoted by 
JSimrock : Wer im finstem doppett, verliert die wUrfel ; and others are to be 
found in Wander's great " Sprichwrtrterloxicon '' (1867-80), as Auff doppel 
spiel muss main leib, gut und alles wagen: and wer gem doppelt, kommt 
leicht zu nichts. To the former of those two is appended the following 
historical note: Dies sprichwort hatte man im 17 jahrhundert trotz der 
gesetslichen bestimmungen der spieler solle nur das verlieren^ was er zum 
spiele bringe^ und selbst dies nicht vollsUindig^ weil man toegen spielschulden 
niemand weiter als bis anfs hemd pfdnden solle, und namentlich nicht verwet- 
ten solle, was ihm Gotl anerschaffen hat. An old dictionary-maker, Caspar 
von Stieler, has, in his *'Teutscher Sprachschatz '* (1691), not a few quota- 
tions relating to doppelspiel : Er doppelt Uber die maszen gem ; das dopptln 
(the verbal noun) ?iat ihn zum armen mann gemacht: beim doppeln nmsz 
majin aufsetzen, a sort of proverb which he renders into Latin: "exercens 
aleam pecuniam in ludum deponat;" Stieler also uses the verb, ausdopp^n, 
lo ** cease to play dice." 

We have thus expressed what, so far as our researches have gone (and 
they have by no means been exhaustive), we are enabled to say in regard 
to the introduction into Germany of dice, and of their use as a means of 
gambling; we have also treated the subject of the names given in German 
to the dice-pips, a matter which concerns not only the pure dice-play, but 
also the game of nard-backgammon in perhaps a still higher degree. Pre- 
vious to any account of the varieties of back-gammon, and the German 
methods of play, we shall give a hasty version of a recent essay on dice- 
play in Germany by the orientalist, August Wiinsche, published in the 
widely-known review, "Nord und Slid" (Breslau vol. 80, Marz 1897). The 
article bears the title: " Deutsche manner und frauenspiele wahrend des 
mittelalters,** but we are only concerned with the portions (pp. 329-334), 
which relate to dice and the nard-game. '' The dice-game," he says, allud- 
ing to warfelspiel, ** which is probably identical with bickelspiel, originated 
in the east. According to tradition it was invented in the city of Hazarth 
(Hezar) in Palestine, wherefore it is often called a game of hazard. Among 
the adherents to old Germanic uiythology Wotan (Odin) was regarded as the 
inventor of dice. But on the introduction of Christianity several old attri- 
butes and spheres of activity were transferred to the spirits of evil, and 



STRAY so TES U9 



thus the deril. at m Uier dav. came to be regarded as the originator of dice. 
He was sappose^i to havecreatei thecj for the purpose of gaining souls for his 
infernal kingdom. Ye; against iiis will the product of his ingenuity was 
made lo serre Chrisiianitr. as is shown by a short poem of Reinmar von 
Zweter, in which the six Jioe-numbers were symbolically applied to the 
Christian laith: 



Weil cr damit wid aeelcs mek swiaaeo will. 

Dim us hat «r derii^b ^tmaeht. veil eiii ^valt'gvr G^t <la iA. 

Der brauMl aammi dcr «de aleht 

la Miaer hand, aaf wcicbe s«« da* daas ymohl jc^ht. 

Die drei aaf seioen aamea. die da hat der tnase wahre Christ. 

JUaa qsatre, daa acfanf er mit gronea lialeo 

Ami die rier erapgelirten. 

Die foafe aaf dea m fm rh w i sane, 

Dms cr die fnnf itun mache kraak, 

Die aecha, das er aechs woehto Ian; 

Die fiMten nns dnrch irorlelii abg«winDc. ** 

Dice-playing was known as toppehi (tOifefn) and tlie dice -player as topcler. 
The dice-board, also the backgammon-board {tturfiabeh, in old French styled 
"bcrlenc," was generally of marble, the dice themselves, on the other hand, 
of bones of the ox, and bore, as they still bear, the numbers e.^st\ <ii.<, (fair>), 
drie, kwater^ zinke and s^es. Even the ancient Germans, as the Roman histi>- 
rian Tacitus ('Germania,* cap. XXIV) informs us, were passionately devoted to 
dice-play. He writes: 'They practise dice-play— at which one will naturally 
wonder— soberly, and quite as if it were a serious business, with such hard- 
ihood in winning and losing, that, when they have nothing more left, they 
stake their freedom and their person on a last cast of the die. The loser 
resigns himself voluntarily to servitude; even if he be younger and stronger 
tlian his adversary, he allows himself to be bound and sold. Thus great is 
their stanchness in an affair so bad; they themselves cal